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.
Government contractors, federal employees and military personnel holding security clearances have a duty to self-report security issues that happen between investigations.
Not reporting timely security concerns can lead to a loss of one’s security clearance. Unfortunately, there are often uncertainties about self-reporting and when and how it applies to a clearance holder.
The Duty to Self Report
The duty to self-report was best defined by an administrative judge from the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) in a 2001 case: “[I]t is the responsibility of security clearance holders to report events which negatively affect the status of the security clearance holder or the facility. [A]ny information… [which] reflects adversely on the integrity or character of a security clearance holder should be reported to security personnel to avoid compromising situations that make the security clearance holder vulnerable to coercion, exploitation, or duress.”
Examples of What Might be Reported
A reportable security concern is an incident that falls under one of the Adjudicative Guidelines contained in Security Executive Agent Directive 4 (SEAD 4). In most cases, legal counsel should be consulted to determine how to self-report an issue. The following are just a few of the more common examples of security issues that could trigger a duty to self-report:
- An individual uses illegal drugs (including the use of marijuana even in states or countries where legal locally). This can be a very complicated security concern given the intersection of criminal law and clearance law where legal advice will definitely be needed.
- An individual is arrested. The timing and substance of reporting this incident will be important so legal advice will be needed.
- An individual petitions for bankruptcy. Because filing for bankruptcy bears on financial considerations under SEAD 4, the individual should likely report the filing as soon as possible to his or her security officer.
- An individual marries a foreign citizen. Because marrying a foreign citizen can raise foreign influence issues under SEAD 4, it most likely will trigger a duty to self-report.
When Should a Security Concern be Reported?
When an individual who holds a security clearance determines that a security concern requires self-reporting, it is important to do so as soon as possible. The typical procedure for doing so is to notify one’s security officer of the security concern. The security officer may simply take note of the situation, report it or take other action.
The individual almost always feels embarrassed to self-report a security concern. However, not reporting an incident can lead to the loss of an individual’s security clearance. If an individual has questions about what should be reported, he or she should seek legal advice from an attorney experienced in security clearance law as soon as possible. There are risks to self-reporting, so it is important to seek legal counsel prior to doing so where possible.
If you need of legal representation or advice on the reporting of security clearance issues or any other security clearance matters, 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.
It’s going to be a cold and rainy weekend in Fairfax County, thanks to Tropical Storm Ophelia. Tracking to make landfall in North Carolina today (Friday), the storm is expected to reach Northern Virginia tonight.
Reston Station (file photo) Qualtrics, a technology and data research company, has officially opened its doors in Reston. The company, which provides artifical intelligence-driven software to assist businesses with customer…
The Boro in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey) Fairfax County is considering a pilot program to support more murals in its commercial revitalization areas. The pilot program, called Paint…
Jersey Mike’s is set to open at Seneca Corner in Great Falls (courtesy Republic Land Development) Another fast food option will soon be open in Great Falls. Jersey Mike’s Subs…