By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com
When applying or re-applying for a security clearance, it is very important that one
spends enough time on their application in order to properly complete their security
clearance paperwork. Often times, there can be many mistakes which result from not spending enough time in reviewing and completing the SF-86 / Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) submission paperwork. These
mistakes can significantly delay or seriously affect an individual’s ability to obtain
or maintain a security clearance.
The e-QIP is the electronic means in which to complete the forms for an individual’s security clearance (i.e. the SF-86). In the past, this was completed directly
on the paper form itself. The e-QIP process, through OPM, has changed this from a paper based application to a web-based system. The e-QIP system allows the
individual to complete their background investigations online over a secure
Tips in Completing the SF-86 / e-QIP
One of the most frequent pieces of advice that we provide to security clearance clients is that it is important for them to be truthful in the completion of their security clearance paperwork. Often times, issues that arise that seem major are far less significant than the problems that arise when an individual is less than honest in their security clearance application paperwork. It can be very difficult to overturn an adverse finding on truthfulness or honesty.
In addition, when the SF-86 / e-QIP is completed too quickly or without adequate preparation it is often the case that mistakes can be made. When a mistake is made, even if not intentional, security clearance authorities (DoDCAF, CIA, NSA, etc.) can view the omission as intentional in nature which can also raise an issue of truthfulness or lack of full disclosure even if the mistake was not intentional.
Therefore, before the SF-86 / e-QIP is completed, if there are potential issues, they should be fully reviewed with the assistance of counsel familiar with the security clearance process. Often times, the questions asked can have more than one meaning in the context of an individual issue. Other tips for the proper completion of the SF-86 / e-QIP include obtaining information from prior employers, contact information for friends and relatives, in addition to any documents related to information that must be disclosed (e.g. an existing tax lien or arrest record that must be disclosed).
What to do when Issues Arise in Completing the SF-86 / e-QIP
When issues arise for an individual in the security clearance application process, it is important to obtain the advice of counsel in completing one’s security clearance paperwork. For example, if an individual is facing their 5-year re-investigation and have had a driving under the influence charge in the interim, it is important to prepare to respond to the allegation, in advance of submitting one’s SF-86 / e-QIP given that this will be an important part of the new investigation.
When security clearance issues arise it is important to obtain the advice of counsel where potential issues might arise. An individual will want to obtain legal advice if there is reason for concern regarding their completion of this security clearance paperwork. Our law firm stands ready to advise individuals on the issues involving the proper completion of security clearance forms and associated disclosures. We can be contacted at www.berrylegal.com or by telephone at (703) 668-0070.