How Do I Check on My Security Clearance Status?

By Joel Colby - Updated June 06, 2017
An open Top Secret envelope on the table

An applicant cannot directly pursue the status of a security clearance. The Facility Security Office responsible for submitting the security clearance request must do this on on the applicant's behalf. There are three federal security clearance levels: confidential, secret and top secret. Most people don’t need a security clearance; however, it is necessary for some employees and job seekers. Some law enforcement jobs, state and federal government positions as well as some jobs created by government contracts expose employees to knowledge that, if released, could adversely impact national security. Therefore, it is important for those employees or employment candidates to receive a thorough background check.

Security Clearance Status

Security clearances are not easy to get and they should not be. Investigations take time and an applicant must have patience and understand that national security should not be jeopardized by hasty investigations. An applicant cannot directly pursue the status of the security clearance request. The Facility Security Officer (FSO) responsible for submitting the application may inquire about the application's status by checking the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) or the Security and Investigations Index (SII). As a last resort, the FSO can telephone the inquiry to the DOD Security Service Center.

Understanding the Application Process

Once a cleared contractor determines that an employee or candidate for employment needs access to sensitive material, the contractor’s FSO submits an investigation request to JPAS. The employee must complete the clearance application in the Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP). The FSO then reviews the completed e-QIP and forwards to the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO). If DISCO approves the request, it is released to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for investigation. Results of the investigation are returned to DISCO. DISCO either grants a clearance or provides the information to the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) for further adjudication. Understand that the application process involves multiple departments. Delays could occur at any stage in the process.

Expediting the Process

There really is no way to expedite the process, but an applicant can take steps not to impede the investigation. In order to prepare for the electronic questionnaire, (e-QIP) an applicant can get and review or complete a paper copy of the application form (Standard Form 86—SF86). The form can be found on line at gsa.gov. When completing the e-QIP, all information must be filled out completely and honestly. Nothing, positive or negative, should be withheld. Often an applicant will forget short term employment, residence or educational information which will add time to the process when discovered during the investigation. The applicant should also get and review their current credit report to assure that there is nothing on the report that could cause a delay. There are thirteen guidelines covering such things as alcohol consumption, drug involvement, financial considerations and criminal conduct spelled out in the document, “Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information”, issued on December 29, 2005. The guidelines explain disqualifying and mitigating conditions. An applicant with any of the disqualifying points should review and list the mitigating circumstances on the application.

About the Author

During the final 20 years of the last century and the first few of this one, Joel Colby wrote and edited articles for technical publications. Since then he has written non-technical articles for Weeder’s Digest, Horseman Magazine, Socyberty, eHow and other websites. Colby holds a B.S. degree from Purdue University.

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