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Eligibility Guidelines for Gaining Security Clearance

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The following guidelines are established for all individuals who require access to classified information. They apply to persons being considered for initial or continued eligibility, and are used by government departments and agencies in all final clearance determinations.

Investigative Process

The determination of whether the granting or continuing of eligibility for a security clearance is based upon careful consideration of the following guidelines A-M: Guideline A: Allegiance to the U.S.

The Concern:

An individual must be of unquestioned allegiance to the United States.

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

  • Involvement in any act whose aim is to overthrow the Government of the United States or alter the form of government by unconstitutional means;
  • Association or sympathy with persons who are attempting to commit, or who are committing, any of the above acts;
  • Association or sympathy with persons or organizations that advocate the overthrow of the United States Government, or any state or subdivision, by force or violence or by other unconstitutional means;
  • Involvement in activities which unlawfully advocate or practice the prevention of others from exercising their rights under the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any state.

Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

  • The individual was unaware of the unlawful aims of the individual or organization and severed ties upon learning of these;
  • The individual's involvement was only with the lawful or humanitarian aspects of such an organization;
  • Involvement in the above activities occurred for only a short period of time and was attributable to curiosity or academic interest;
  • The person has had no recent involvement or association with such activities.

Guideline B: Foreign Influence

The Concern:

  • Having close ties with individuals who are not citizens of the United States could create the potential for foreign influence that could result in the compromise of classified information.
  • Contacts with citizens of other countries or financial interests in other countries could also create vulnerability to coercion, exploitation, or pressure.

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

  • An immediate family member, or a person to whom the individual has close ties of affection or obligation, is a citizen of, resident of, or present in, a foreign country;
  • Sharing living quarters with a person or persons, regardless of their citizenship status, if the potential for adverse foreign influence exists;
  • Relatives, cohabitants, or associates who are connected with any foreign government;
  • Failing to report, where required, associations with foreign nationals;
  • Unauthorized association with a suspected or known collaborator or employee of a foreign intelligence service;
  • Conduct which may make the individual vulnerable to coercion, exploitation, or pressure by a foreign government;
  • Indications that representatives or nationals from a foreign country are acting to increase the vulnerability of the individual to possible future exploitation, coercion or pressure;
  • A substantial financial interest in a country, or in any foreign owned or operated business that could make the individual vulnerable to foreign influence.

Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

  • A determination that the immediate family member(s), cohabitant, or associate(s) in question are not agents of a foreign power or in a position to be exploited by a foreign power;
  • Contacts with foreign citizens are the result of official U.S. Government business;
  • Contact and correspondence with foreign citizens are casual and infrequent;
  • The individual has promptly complied with existing agency requirements regarding the reporting of contacts, requests, or threats from persons or organizations from a foreign country;
  • Foreign financial interests are minimal and not sufficient to affect the individual's security responsibilities.

Guideline C: Foreign Preference

The Concern:

  • When an individual acts in such a way as to indicate a preference for a foreign country over the United States.

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

  • The exercise of dual citizenship;
  • Possession and/or use of a foreign passport;
  • Military service or a willingness to bear arms for a foreign country;
  • Accepting educational, medical, or other benefits, such as retirement and social welfare, from a foreign country;
  • Residence in a foreign country to meet citizenship requirements;
  • Using foreign citizenship to protect financial or business interests in another country;
  • Seeking or holding political office in the foreign country;
  • Voting in foreign elections; and
  • Performing or attempting to perform duties, or otherwise acting, so as to serve the interests of another government in preference to the interests of the United States.

Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

  • Dual citizenship is based solely on parents' citizenship or birth in a foreign country;
  • Indicators of possible foreign preference (e.g., foreign military service) occurred before obtaining United States citizenship;
  • Activity is sanctioned by the United States;
  • Individual has expressed a willingness to renounce dual citizenship.

Guideline D: Sexual Behavior

The Concern:

  • Sexual behavior that involves criminal offense;
  • Indicates personality or emotional disorders;
  • Subject the individual to coercion, exploitation, or duress, or reflects lack of judgment or discretion. see footnote)

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

  • Sexual behavior of a criminal nature, whether or not the individual has been prosecuted;
  • Compulsive or addictive sexual behavior when the person is unable to stop a pattern of self-destructive or high-risk behavior or which is symptomatic of a personality disorder;
  • Sexual behavior that causes an individual to be vulnerable to coercion, exploitation or duress;
  • Sexual behavior of a public nature and/or which reflects lack of discretion or judgment.

Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

  • The behavior occurred during or prior to adolescence and there is no evidence of subsequent conduct of a similar nature;
  • The behavior was not recent and there is no evidence of subsequent conduct of a similar nature;
  • There is no other evidence of questionable judgment, irresponsibility, or emotional instability;
  • The behavior no longer serves as a basis for coercion, exploitation, or duress.

Guideline E: Personal Conduct

The Concern:

The following will normally result in an unfavorable clearance action or administrative termination of further processing for clearance eligibility:

  • Refusal to undergo or cooperate with required security processing, including medical and psychological testing
  • Refusal to complete required security forms, releases, or provide full, frank and truthful answers to lawful questions in connection with a personnel security or trustworthiness determination.

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

  • Reliable, unfavorable information provided by associates, employers, coworkers, neighbors, and other acquaintances;
  • The deliberate omission, concealment, or falsification of relevant and material facts from investigations to determine security clearance eligibility;
  • Personal conduct or concealment of information that may increase a persons susceptibility to blackmail;
  • A pattern of dishonesty or rule violations, including violation of any written or recorded agreement made between the individual and the agency.
  • Association with persons involved in criminal activity.

Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

  • The information was unsubstantiated or not pertinent to a determination of judgment, trustworthiness, or reliability;
  • The falsification was an isolated incident, was not recent, and the individual has subsequently provided correct information voluntarily;
  • The individual made prompt, good-faith efforts to correct the falsification before being confronted with the facts;
  • Omission of material facts was caused or significantly contributed to by improper or inadequate advice of authorized personnel, and the previously omitted information was promptly and fully provided;
  • The individual has taken positive steps to significantly reduce or eliminate vulnerability to coercion, exploitation, or duress;
  • A refusal to cooperate was based on ill advice from legal counsel or other officials and, upon being made aware of the issue, fully and truthfully provided the requested information;
  • Association with persons involved in criminal activities has ceased.

Guideline F: Financial Considerations

The Concern:

  • An individual who is financially overextended is at risk of having to engage in illegal acts to generate funds.

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

  • A history of not meeting financial obligations;
  • Deceptive or illegal financial practices such as embezzlement, employee theft, check fraud, income tax evasion, expense account fraud, filing deceptive loan statements, and other intentional financial breaches of trust;
  • Inability or unwillingness to satisfy debts;
  • Unexplained affluence;
  • Financial problems that are linked to gambling, drug abuse, alcoholism, or other issues of security concern.

Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

  • The behavior was not recent;
  • It was an isolated incident;
  • The conditions that resulted in the behavior were largely beyond the person's control (e.g., loss of employment, a business downturn, unexpected medical emergency, or a death, divorce or separation);
  • The person has received or is receiving counseling for the problem and there are clear indications that the problem is being resolved or is under control;
  • The affluence resulted from a legal source; and
  • The individual initiated a good-faith effort to repay overdue creditors or otherwise resolve debts.

Guideline G: Alcohol Consumption

The Concern:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption can leads to questionable judgment, which may increase the risk of unauthorized disclosure of classified information.

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

  • Driving while under the influence, fighting, child or spouse abuse, or other criminal incidents related to alcohol use;
  • Reporting for work or duty in an intoxicated or impaired condition, or drinking on the job;
  • Diagnosis by a credentialed medical professional of alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence;
  • Evaluation of alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence by a licensed clinical social worker;
  • Habitual or binge consumption of alcohol to the point of impaired judgment;
  • Consumption of alcohol after completing a rehabilitation program

Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

  • The alcohol related incidents do not indicate a pattern;
  • The problem occurred a number of years ago and there is no indication of a recent problem;
  • Positive changes in behavior supportive of sobriety;
  • Successful completion of a rehabilitation program along with aftercare requirements, as well as abstaining from alcohol consumption for at least 12 months.

Guideline H: Drug Involvement

The Concern:

  • Drug abuse or dependence may impair social or occupational functioning, increasing the risk of an unauthorized disclosure of classified information.

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

  • Any drug abuse (illegal use of a drug or use of a legal drug in a manner that deviates from approved medical direction.);
  • Illegal drug possession, including cultivation, processing, manufacture, purchase, sale, or distribution;
  • Diagnosis by a credentialed medical professional of drug abuse or drug dependence;
  • Evaluation of drug abuse or drug dependence by a licensed clinical social worker;
  • Failure to successfully complete a drug treatment program prescribed by a credentialed medical professional.
  • Recent drug involvement, especially following the granting of a security clearance.

Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

  • The drug involvement was not recent;
  • The drug involvement was an isolated or aberrational event;
  • A demonstrated intent not to abuse any drugs in the future;
  • Satisfactory completion of a prescribed drug treatment program, including rehabilitation and aftercare requirements, without recurrence of abuse.

Guideline I: Emotional, Mental and Personality Disorders

The Concern:

  • Emotional, mental, and personality disorders can cause a significant deficit in an individual's psychological, social and occupational functioning.

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

  • An opinion by a credentialed mental health professional that the individual has a condition or treatment that may indicate a defect in judgment, reliability, or stability;
  • Failure to take a prescribed medication to counter a condition described above;
  • A pattern of high-risk, irresponsible, aggressive, anti-social or emotionally unstable behavior;
  • Information that suggests that the individual's current behavior indicates a defect in his or her judgment or reliability.

Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

  • There is no indication of a current problem;
  • Recent opinion by a credentialed mental health professional that an individual's previous emotional, mental, or personality disorder is under control and has a low probability of recurrence;
  • The past emotional instability was a temporary condition (e.g., one caused by a death, illness, or marital breakup), and the individual is no longer emotionally unstable.

Guideline J: Criminal Conduct

The Concern:

A history or pattern of criminal activity creates doubt about a person's judgment, reliability and trustworthiness.

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

  • Allegations or admissions of criminal conduct, regardless of whether the person was formally charged;
  • A single serious crime or multiple lesser offenses.

Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

  • The criminal behavior was not recent;
  • The crime was an isolated incident;
  • The person was pressured or coerced into committing the act and those pressures are no longer present in that person's life;
  • The person did not voluntarily commit the act and/or the factors leading to the violation are not likely to recur;
  • Acquittal
  • There is clear evidence of successful rehabilitation.

Guideline K: Security Violations

The Concern:

  • Noncompliance with security regulations raises doubt about an individual's trustworthiness, willingness, and ability to safeguard classified information.

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

  • Unauthorized disclosure of classified information;
  • Violations that are deliberate or multiple or due to negligence.

Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

  • Were inadvertent;
  • Were isolated or infrequent;
  • Were due to improper or inadequate training;
  • Demonstrate a positive attitude towards the discharge of security responsibilities.

Guideline L: Outside Activities

The Concern:

  • Involvement in certain types of outside employment or activities is of security concern if it could create an increased risk of unauthorized disclosure of classified information.

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

Any service, whether compensated, volunteer, or employment with:

  • A foreign country;
  • Any foreign national;
  • A representative of any foreign interest;
  • Any foreign, domestic, or international organization or person engaged in analysis, discussion, or publication of material on intelligence, defense, foreign affairs, or protected technology.

Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

  • Evaluation of the outside employment or activity indicates that it does not pose a conflict with an individual's security responsibilities;
  • The individual terminates the employment or discontinues the activity upon being notified that it is in conflict with his or her security responsibilities.

Guideline M: Misuse of Government Systems

The Concern:

  • Noncompliance with rules, procedures, guidelines or regulations pertaining to information technology systems may raise security concerns about an individual's ability to properly protect classified systems, networks, and information.

Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

  • Illegal or unauthorized entry into any information technology system;
  • Illegal or unauthorized modification, destruction, manipulation, or denial of access to information residing on an information technology system;
  • Removal (or use) of hardware, software or media from any information technology system without authorization, when specifically prohibited by rules, procedures, guidelines or regulations;
  • Introduction of hardware, software or media into any information technology system without authorization, when specifically prohibited by rules, procedures, guidelines or regulations;

Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

  • The misuse was not recent or significant;
  • The conduct was unintentional or inadvertent;
  • The introduction or removal of media was authorized;
  • The misuse was an isolated event;
  • The misuse was followed immediately by a prompt, good faith effort to correct the situation.

When information of security concern becomes known about a person who is currently seeking security clearance, the investigator will consider several factors in determining if clearance should be granted or denied. These factors include:

  • The person voluntarily reported the adverse information;
  • Was truthful and complete in responding to questions;
  • Sought assistance and followed professional guidance, where appropriate;
  • Resolved or appears likely to favorably resolve the security concern;
  • Has demonstrated positive changes in behavior and employment;
  • Should have his or her access temporarily suspended pending final adjudication of the information.

After evaluating information of security concern, the investigator decides whether security clearance will be granted or denied. It may be appropriate to recommend approval with a warning that future incidents of a similar nature may result in revocation of access.

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