Security Clearance Denial

Facility Security Officer Denied Clearance for Failure to Report Criminal Conduct

In the contractor industrial security world Facility Security Officers (FSO) are the primary interface between the U.S. Government and companies that are given access to classified information. As such, an FSO’s integrity and trustworthiness should be above reproach – and when faced with ethical dilemmas, they should act first and foremost on behalf of the government and national security. Here is a summary of a rare case involving the clearance revocation of an FSO:

This individual was the FSO of a small family-owned defense contractor for over 20 years. In 2014 the president (the owner’s son) of the company pled guilty and was convicted of fraud and failure to pay taxes. As all FSOs know per their training and responsibilities, an incident report should have been filed in JPAS because it directly affects the company’s Facility Security Clearance (FSL) granted by the Defense Security Service. Well, in this case the FSO failed to report anything, neither in JPAS nor directly to their assigned DSS liaison. Unfortunately for the FSO, this information was discovered a few months later during a routine DSS security vulnerability assessment.

The FSO’s clearance was suspended and eventually revoked under the personal conduct guideline for failure to follow reporting procedures as required by the NISPOM. His dishonesty during questioning about the incident also did him in. At first he had claimed to have had computer issues, then claimed to have called the DSS liaison but could not reach him. Eventually, he confessed to having been asked by the owner of the company to not report his son’s conviction for fear it would affect the company’s ability to do classified work. This particular FSO committed a cardinal sin in betraying the trust placed in him by the U.S. Government.


  1. It seems like the owner of the business should have been liable for criminal charges for coercing an employee to not report the incident. Yes . . . The FSO was clearly in the wrong but may have been OK if he had admitted the incident when questioned.

    As is usually the case, the cover up is far worse than the crime.

  2. The cover up and willingness to lie to continue access to classified is a cardinal sin. Yes the owner looks bad but still has his company and job. He also has a new FSO. I make clear to my corporate HQ to not reveal infractions to me they do not want reported. I could not pass a poly if I did and I will not risk my clearance for others. I may go to bat for the owner’s son, see what I could learn in my research and personal relationship calls with the DSS rep for mentoring…but the report still goes through. I get guidance from my government client Security lead all the time concerning how to phrase things when reporting, making sure I understand how the clearance office interprets terms I use. I am not suggesting shading the truth in any manner, but how something is presented can make all the difference in the world.

  3. My bet is the companies facility clearance was revoked, thus all the KMPs including the FSO, lost their personal clearances. DSS should highlight this case…it might scare a CEO away from pressuring an FSO in the future.

  4. Can someone please tell me the procedure for checking my clearance? I know there’s a board or something that I can request such a thing. But are there services I can hire to check my background just as a potential employer would? I got a job response to a resume I sent the next day after I submitted it, and was in the process of setting up a time to speak with HR. Then they just stopped communicating…nothing. I realize they could have hired someone else or lost interest, but this kind of thing keeps happening. I need to know why. Suggestions?

  5. Though not part of this thread…is there conduct you are aware of they are coming across? Any criminal history? I would complete my own crim history check and see if there is something out there. Google local criminal background checks. I think in Virginia you can pay $15 and get your own completed.

  6. A dui in 1985, but otherwise just a couple of traffic tickets. Nothing else I’m aware of.

  7. That would not stop a clearance. Possible they were told no on an interim…and that scared them off. Getting denied an interim is not a harbinger of denial. It just means someone with adjudication responsibility needs to review and make a determination. Any stray mark would cause that. Incidents from 30 plus years ago, absent a felony, would have little bearing. Run a crim background check and see if there is something you are not aware of. Otherwise if you have not used drugs recreationally and have a 650 minimum credit score…getting cleared secret should be easy.

  8. Right, no drugs and credit around 800.