Security Clearance Denial

Lying on Security Forms is a Sure Way to Get Denied a Security Clearance

On this forum we have repeatedly stressed honesty and full disclosure when filling out the SF-86 application for a security clearance and advising applicants to take responsibility for previous conduct or behavior that may be of concern. Most FSOs and Security Managers grill their applicants and provide the same advice. Yet, time and time again I run across appeals cases where the applicant decided to withhold information or just outright lie and was subsequently denied a clearance. The irony in this is many of these cases, had the applicant been truthful and owned up to the conduct they lied about, they would probably have been granted clearance eligibility. Below is the case summary that is a classic example of what not to do:

This clearance applicant filled out an SF-86 in 2011 and failed to disclose drug use (marijuana) and related arrests between that occurred between 1999 and 2008. In 2014 the applicant submitted another SF-86 and once again failed to disclose his previous drug use and criminal history (including a 2012 DUI). During his subject interview he gave multiple excuses for omitting the DUI and claimed a faulty memory and being bad with dates as the excuse for not listing the drug use and arrests. Of course this led to a denial and in his DOHA appeal he provided inconsistent testimony and argued that the judge in the initial denial was incorrect in the finding that he had “deliberately” falsified his SF-86. He also argued the investigation was faulty and he should not have been issued a statement of reasons in the first place. Needless to say, the DOHA judge was unmoved by these arguments and upheld the clearance denial.

So, to reiterate once again, full disclosure and honesty is the best policy, and will provide adjudicators the opportunity to apply mitigation to any issues or concerns. If you lie about an issue that happened five or ten years ago you have now created a new issue effective on the date you lied about it!


  1. In case of committing an error or mistake while filing out SF-86, does disclosure of this error during the interview with investigator helps mitigating the impact of that error ?

  2. @wullah - yes it does help mitigate.

  3. What if the investigaor had an old SF86?

    Please see my post here: Investigator had old SF86 and not the newest and accused me?

  4. Suggestion: search for old post that @dave019 wrote regarding to material falsification. His post had useful and beneficial information.

  5. it depends… mainly on what was the “error” was and how you disclosed it during the interview. For instance, if you disclosed the derogatory information upfront, you will stand better chance of mitigating versus being confronted with derogatory information by the investigator.

  6. I really appreciate these very informative replies. I have one more question about the impact of Item# 12 on the OF-306 Declaration of Federal Employment Form. I was let go off a previous job with a private corporation for not performing according to the expectations. It happened within 5 years. How does this impacts the possibility of getting a job with Federal Government?

  7. Performance has no bearing in adjudication as long as you disclose all information.

  8. Much Appreciated. I am filing out SF-86C form as well. This form correlates with my last submitted SF-86. Can explain the mistake that I made while filing out the SF-86 or I should only mention any changes to my previously answered SF86 questions?

  9. As a TS holder, i have been interviewed many times…both for myself and as references for other. There is no way a person can remember every single detail. I have had 2nd to 5th repeat interviews where they have found something that was omitted. I was honest and said I forgot and then gave them all the details i could remember.

    I think part of the investigation being face to face is to judge how honest and forthcoming you are. Did you “intentionally” forget or was it an honest oversight. Character always matters.

  10. 1000% disagree with you. I can remember everything on the forms when filling them out. Then again I am an organized person and keep accurate records.

    Address and street names aside, a person should be able to remember if they were arrested, did drugs etc. Omitting those is on purpose with the hopes of not getting caught.