This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.
By John V. Berry, Esq.
We represent and defend security clearance holders and applicants in security clearance investigations and appeals. One of the lessor understood aspects of holding a security clearance is the continuing duty of a government contractor or federal employee to self-report new security issues which arise.
The federal government is slowly moving towards a system of continuous evaluation for security clearance holders, but there is still a duty for a clearance holder to self-report significant security concerns that arise between investigations.
This is often a misunderstood issue. Many government contractors and federal employees understandably do not want to essentially report themselves for new issues that arise and either don’t think about reporting new issues that arise or report them in the context of later filling out a new SF-86 or e-QIP application during the next background investigation.
It is very important to understand when issues should be reported and to do so promptly in many cases.
Types of Reportable Security Concerns
There are many potential types of security concerns that should be reported to the government contractor’s / federal employee’s security office. Each federal agency that issues security clearances offers their own guidance, which can vary, but remain mostly the same.
Some issues are harder to evaluate than others when it comes to deciding whether or not to self-report them, which is why counsel is often needed. Some examples of security concerns that may need to be reported as soon as possible include:
- An arrest (DUI, assault, any type of criminal issue, etc)
- Marriage to a citizen of another country
- Excessive unpaid debts (or bankruptcy)
- Certain civil lawsuits
- Use of illegal drugs
- Contact by a foreign country
- A wide variety of other security concerns (too many to list)
Results of Reporting a Security Concern
The first step in self-reporting a security issue is for the individual to notify their security officer. Documentation may be needed from the security office and/or an interview may then be needed.
As a result of self-reporting, a contractor or federal employee may need to deal with ramifications of a clearance review or investigation. That is not always the case and many incidents are noted simply for the security file and nothing else occurs. However, not reporting a security issue, when it is required, can create a greater likelihood that the individual will lose their security clearance because they will have to deal with both the underlying issue and also the fact that they have not reported the incident previously.
In many cases, self-reporting can be viewed as a mitigating factor in the clearance adjudication process.
When facing security clearance or employment issues it can be important to have the assistance and advice of counsel. If you need assistance with a clearance or employment issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation.