Security Clearance Denial

Lying about Why You Left Previous Employment is Never Good

Anyone who has filled out a Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86) is familiar with the section where you must list all previous employments in the past seven years and why you left. It is pretty straightforward and branching questions ask about being fired, leaving employment under mutual agreement after being told you would be fired or due to specific problems. Yet, it still amazes me how many security clearance and public trust applicants fail to disclose issues or the true reason they left previous employment, perhaps thinking the background investigation won’t catch it.

This exact scenario played out in a recent Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Hearing and Appeals case where a security clearance applicant failed to disclose the true reasons for leaving employment from a municipal government. Turns out, the applicant was under investigation by state officials after it was discovered by the Financial Director there were accounts under the control of the applicant with unusual activities, such as no receipts filed, missing funds, and checks written by the applicant to himself. The applicant was brought in for questioning by state investigators and resigned after being confronted with the issues and refusing to provide information. To add icing on the cake, investigators doing the forensic analysis on his work computer also found pornographic material.

When questioned by the background investigator about the circumstances of leaving this employment he again denied having any issues there and stated he resigned because of dissatisfaction with the work environment and wanting a better job. He also initially denied ownership of the pornography on his computer, but eventually admitted they were his. A litany of excuses and backtracking followed at the appeal hearing after the local security office denied clearance eligibility. I find it absolutely astounding this applicant thought he had a leg to stand in submitting an appeal after the initial denial.


  1. Sociopath’s always believe they have a leg to stand on and someone else to blame and a valid reason for an appeal. Then again…everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Great atypical story.

  2. Ive heard anecdotal evidence of an employer telling a different story than an employee. Mostly these are reports on forums like this, but I do know personally one person who got laid off but thought otherwise everything was OK… until he found out later that the employer filed a security violation against him. Fortunately he got it straightened out.

    However that should not diminish the message of the original post. I do know another guy who got fired for inappropriate internet usage, but was told it would be handled as a “layoff” (probably to avoid any possible lawsuits). Wonder if that sort of thing is the cause of some of these differences.

  3. I can top this one. A Subject, DoD Contractor, reported they were fired but refused to tell me why. They stuck to their guns that their former employer HR told them to tell no one, not even the federal government, why they were fired. They seemed relieved when I said, “ok”.

    I already knew why they were fired.

    In the police record section, Subject did not report any arrests in the last 7 years. Even after I reminded them about having to report expunged records. Again, stuck to their guns.

    I confronted them with two expunged record arrests and the fact they were investigated for embezzling from their former employer and their customers. Also let them know I was aware of their pending court trial for the embezzlement

    Too many think we only use the information they provide. This is an example of why I do as much as I can before the Subject interview.

    BTW, the FSO ended the interview because of the Subject was yelling and screaming at me to the point it was upsetting employees outside the meeting room. The Subject was sent home for the rest of the day. Subject didn’t show to work the next day, or any day, to complete the interview.

  4. backgdinvestigator, that is truly the best outcome! Nice.

  5. I certainly hope that Subject was not able to obtain any personal information regarding your name/address/location. People who lose their jobs often get very vindictive and as you know we are forbidden to carry any type of self protection. This process is all about letting Subject’s think we only use the information they provide and when contradictory information pops up, it’s a reflection of their honesty, memory, reading comprehension, attention to detail, and judgement. You are never going to convince anyone they should have listed or admitted to something on their case papers that they don’t think they should have listed. When their reading comprehension is low and/or their attorney tells them they never have to admit to expunged charges they are gonna believe what they believe. That’s their problem not ours.