Obtaining Security Clearance

The Guide to Filling Out Your SF-86

In 2010 the Office of Personnel Management introduced an updated Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86), while at the same time it was transitioning from the hard copy to electronic submission of the form through e-QIP. Now that the transition is complete, there are still numerous questions and confusion about how to answer certain questions on the form. This confusion usually revolves around the different timelines asked for (10 years, 7 years, EVER), types of offenses, relatives and references, foreign national contacts, and financial information.

For this reason the Defense Security Service developed an online SF-86 Reference Guide that provides a general overview of the process and detailed information on each section to help applicants fill out the form. One section of this guide is called “Remember Your ABC’s” and it provides the following sound advice:

Acquire all your information- be aware that gathering all of the information required to complete the form properly may take more time than anticipated. You should be prepared to spend the time required to accurately gather a lot of detailed information about your current and past situations.

  • Submission of incomplete or forms with illogical information will cause your application to be rejected by the Office of Personnel Management which conducts the actual investigation into your background.

Be truthful in your answers- as you fill out this form remember – a past indiscretion is not as damaging to your reputation as a current and purposeful omission or falsification. It is worse to purposefully omit information that may make an applicant appear in a less than favorable light than to have to admit later that the information was known but omitted.

Check your work- before you submit your form, make sure to proof read all of your entries for proper spelling and grammar.

Although everyone may occasionally forget to list something or make an honest mistake on the form, in today’s world where we have information about virtually everything at our fingertips, there really should be no reason to not obtain the requested information or be ignorant about the information that you are being asked about. Following the advice in the reference guide will ensure your application is complete, accurate and, and processed the first time.

Comment Archive

  1. Avatar

    I have been out of the Army for 3 years and I am trying to apply for overseas jobs and I need to check the status of my clearance, I was a 25U in the army so I had a SECRET. A little help please?

    • Avatar

      Your clearance was withdrawn when you separated from the Army, and because it has been more than 24 months since then a new investigation would be needed to get a clearance reinstated.