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.
It is important to obtain legal advice prior to meeting with security clearance investigators when potential security clearance problems are anticipated.
When individuals have difficulties in the security clearance process or anticipate future problems, the best advice that can be given is to prepare in advance for the meeting. Preparation for the first security clearance meeting can make the difference between a government contractor/federal employee successfully obtaining/retaining a security clearance or being denied one.
Preparing for the Initial Security Clearance Investigator Meeting
One of the most important considerations in meeting with a security clearance investigator for the first time is to adequately prepare for the meeting, especially where there may be potential disqualifying security concerns. We find that most government contractors and federal employees have a general sense of potential security concerns that could arise at the time that they begin to review or complete their e-QIP/SF-86 submissions.
In the most common scenario, an individual is usually alerted to potential problems that may require preparation for the clearance process when they find that they may have to answer “yes” to a certain question and then provide formal disclosures to an uncomfortable question, such as the use of drugs or past financial debts. When these types of issues are anticipated, then one should seek counsel and prepare in advance of a meeting with a security clearance investigator.
Review Relevant Documentation
If a potential security concern exists, it is important to gather as much information and documentation one has on the issue of concern in preparation for the interview. Such information, if useful, can be provided to security clearance investigators at the start. At other times, the information can be useful for later in the clearance process, if needed.
For example, suppose an individual knows that they have a large outstanding debt on their credit report. If so, then that information will certainly be important to review prior to a meeting with a security clearance investigator.
Respond to the Questions Asked
In regard to meetings between government contractors/federal employees and security clearance investigators, one other issue that we run across is the tendency of some individuals to provide information not sought by an investigator.
We advise government contractors and federal employees to answer the questions asked by investigators as honestly as possible but stick to the actual questions that are posed. On many occasions, individuals can get sidetracked or provide information that is not relevant to the questions asked by an investigator, which may cause clearance difficulties later or cause frustration for the investigator.
The usual key to a successful interview is to be as responsive as possible to any areas of concern but to make the meeting with the clearance investigator as efficient as possible. Investigators tend to have many cases to review and like to focus on their particular areas of concern. The better an individual can honestly address specific issues raised by an investigator, the better the potential outcome.
When issues arise, it is important to consult with counsel to obtain the best legal advice possible in presenting one’s response to difficult questions.
Follow-up Interviews or Requests by the Investigator
A security clearance investigator may need additional information regarding potential security concerns or need to interview an individual a second time. We typically advise individuals to attempt to anticipate these requests in advance.
For example, if an investigator appears to have questions about one’s psychological issues during an initial interview, it may be helpful to attempt to obtain a letter from a medical professional soon after that shows that the psychological concerns are under control and have been resolved. Doing so in advance can save time and effort later and may resolve issues early should the investigator come back with additional questions.
If you are in need of security clearance legal representation or advice, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.