Security Clearance Process

Updated SF-86 Targeted for Release in July

Word on the street (because it is nowhere to be found online) among security professionals is that the Suitability and Security Clearance Performance Accountability Council has approved and targeted the deployment of the updated Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86) for some time in July 2017, provided all parties involved are in agreement and processing systems are updated and ready to go. Here is a snapshot of the more significant changes or modifications:

– Illegal Use of Drugs and Drug Activity Question includes a statement that provides notice about including information regarding illegal use of drugs in accordance with Federal laws, even though it may be permissible under state laws.

– Citizenship section added a modified branching to collect information regarding derivative citizenship.

– Residences/where you lived section added clarification with the instructional section and collection of landlord information for rental residences.

– Education/where you went to school section added a link that provides assistance with determining the school address.

– Marital/Relationship Status section added wording for civil marriage, legally recognized civil union, and legally recognized domestic partnership.

– Relatives section added to ask if there were changes to citizenship.

– Financial Record section added Chapter 12 bankruptcy questions.

– Certification section added wording that requires you to affirm that you did not provide classified information on the form.

Other minor changes made to the updated SF-86 do not impact the scope or type of information asked for, but rather just provide clarification of what is being asked. We shall see if OPM, DISS and the NBIB can get organized and on track to meet the targeted date.


  1. Too bad, was hoping the new SF-86 would address what a foreign contacts really is. Oh well.

    Doesn’t matter what they add, as long as there is no mechanism to make sure they are filled out correctly, the ESI will remain an administrative cluster-f of clarifications.

  2. And what on earth is this council?

  3. I’m really hoping there is a huge bold disclaimer on there that specifically spells out to list deployments. I go into every single interview with military personnel knowing that I’m going to have to spend a good amount of time gathering information of deployments that the subject didn’t know they needed to list.

  4. A negative response to the second clause of the definition (sharing affection, influence, common interests, obligation) would negate the need to list anyone, even if a positive response is given for close/continuing contact–at least that’s how a lot of people interpret it. You can have close/continuing contact with a foreign national but if you believe you don’t share affection, influence, common interests, or obligation, you (in theory) wouldn’t be lying if you answered ‘no’ on the SF86.

    I think what @fed-investigator means to say is that our overall pretty logical interpretation of what a constitutes a foreign contact differs from what is asked for on the SF86, and we should probably address that.

  5. I’m taken back by the fact that participating in a FB dog community is a reportable event. On the surface it seems absurd but I suppose one could develop an “affection” for a foreign dog owner. Or maybe a foreign dog, lol? I’m sure the latter would be a reportable event!

    In all seriousness though, I’ve been through the poly process exactly once and agree that there’s no hiding anything. I also agree with over-reporting which I’m doing on a regular basis even though I still don’t have an interim clearance. I also find that I’m becoming increasingly paranoid about everything and everyone around me trying to figure out how much I should report while not driving my FSO crazy.

  6. Paranoid equals system working as designed and intended, lol. Honestly, absurd as it seems the truest metric for any self reporting or insider threat program must be “actual reports submitted.” This does require reframing the concept of “snitching.” And “Big Brother.” FSO’s across the board will have to listen to ever more mundane outside activity reporting while screening for o legitimate items of interest. As an FSO I know I did a good job conveying the message of self reporting and reporting of others when I have a large amount of…wait for it…mundane reporting. I strive to make people comfortable coming forward to report items such as foreign travel, cruises, friendships with foreign nationals, etc. To that point, DSS does not consider posters on bulletin boards as an indicator of a strong insider threat program. I agree. Those are “eye-wash” supporting a program. Part and parcel thereof but not the desired end product. This means the FSO will drown in innocuous reporting. But if those reports are made by both people involved and co-worker observations…then you know people are watching. And reporting. Keep in mind the Snowden’s and Chelsea Manning’s of this world will not self report they have copied record amounts of classified material and shared them in non legal ways. But if their coworker shares the anomaly of seeing them using stick drives where they aren’t authorized…or substituting a non authorized UPS for one recently crashing…then you know people are reporting and you have a chance of actually catching someone.

  7. @amberbunny Thanks for the detailed response. Now I understand why my FSO rarely returns my emails and never returns my phone calls lol…

    There’s a quality of life issue here. Paranoia for the sole purpose of retaining a job isn’t quality of life. As a contractor, I simply want to do my job 9-5 and then forget about it. I have no vested interest in the success of the client company I work for other than continuing to receive a paycheck. They offer me no benefits and can walk me out the door without notice (I’ve seen this 3 times in the past 2 months). Unfortunately, with the clearance investigation hanging over my head, I find myself retreating from social media friends (some of whom are lifelong friends) lest I unwittingly offend the clearance gods. I also stopped participating in political discussions lest I offend the clearance gods. After 15 months, I find myself second-guessing everything I say, who I associate with, and who I communicate with which makes me feel that I’m being smothered by a clearance I don’t have and may never get. I understand your position as a FSO about the need for reporting. Your job requires that level of paranoia, it’s what you do and what you get paid for. I get paid to do something completely different which I can do elsewhere without the need for a clearance. I feel sorry for my FSO and to be honest, I’m losing interest in getting the clearance. It’s not worth it with other positions out there not requiring a clearance. As others have stated, the longer the clearance process drags on, the more of us who will look outside the defense industry to find other work.

  8. Understood on all points. I find myself in the camp of “I greatly appreciate my company,” while I have a job. Part of my job is walking people off who suffered a revocation. We are never given specifics of the revocation and I always leave the departing employee with the best advice I can, which is “Once the statement of reasons arrives, if you wish to appeal, please give me a call.” I am sincere in wanting to help challenge anything that would possibly be seen as a possible over reaction from clearance. That said, I have never had an employee follow through with a challenge and I have never seen a revocation for a minor item. It isn’t an action taken lightly. In cases where I did see the SOR, there were substantial SF-86 falsifications, crimes committed and not listed, multiple incidents of drug use, etc. Though I can’t ever speak to anything on the SOR I hear from many co-workers “Jim was such a nice guy, he wasn’t bad” or words to that effect. So not being made aware of the reason doesn’t mean there wasn’t a valid reason. The people one associates with, your finances, drug use and drug culture can lead to an Insider Threat reporting requiring an investigation.

    I understand the point you can work “outside the gate” doing the same thing without a clearance. The cleared life isn’t’ for everyone. It can be confining and limiting in the extra-curricular areas. I would not worry about the political discussions other than your blood pressure and aggravation. However, I do caution that FB and other social media posting are often monitored by uncleared companies as well. Derogatory comments, inflammatory speech…most companies do not want to be associated with bad behavior. So for the purposes of maintaining any employment…exercise caution. At times I type a response, pause, think better of it and nope my way out of the conversation.

  9. @jennynd, I think we may be in the same area but I’d rather not reveal it. I believe we have a long wait ahead of us, as much as 3 months from what’s been posted here. I still haven’t been interviewed and I’m not sure I’m on her schedule for the remainder of this month. I’m at 10 months and counting.

  10. @marko.hakamaa,
    Back in November 2016 OMB posted a copy of the “Predecisional Draft” SF86 at The most important change is the new wording for Question 21, which was approved by ODNI on the same day the draft SF86 was released. US District Courts haven’t issued Naturalization Certificates in well over 10 years (ever since INS moved from the Justice Department to Homeland Security and became USCIS); nevertheless, the SF86 continues to ask for the name and location of the court that issued the certificate.