Thursday, April 21, 2011

Clearances, Pt 2: Under the Microscope

Going through Security Clearances was the most enigmatic part of the whole process so far.  It's not so much for lack of transparency on the part of DSS, as they provide a lot of information in the FAQs and the Adjudicative Guidelines.  I say enigmatic because there is so much uncertainty about the interview and investigation itself. Many of us in this process are probably borderline OCD and this part of the process falls outside of our locus of control.  ;)

I had filled out the SF-86 prior to my Oral Assessment, as required, using the e-QIP system, and gathered all the recommended documents to bring to the OA.  This took quite a while to complete, and my last ten years have been relatively uneventful!  If you are gearing up for you own OA, do NOT put this off to the last minute, as it could delay your clearances if you pass.  Most of my information was still accurate from my previous OA in 2006, but still took a little while to update and verify.

I had been expecting a call from DSS any day for several weeks after my OA, and had to contact Customer Service a few times until I was notified that my case had been opened, and a target date set.  A few days later, I received a call from the local field agent who was assigned to investigate me.  We arranged a meeting at my office, and he was very interesting to talk to.  The initial interview took less than two hours, as I recall.  I had a list of references for him, and he asked to speak with some other people in my office.  According to the Yahoo Boards, some candidates have had issues with this in the past, but in my case, everyone in the office has known that I've been pursuing this for years, and were each vying for a chance to 'meet with the investigator'.  Of course they were also teasing me that they would 'come up with something bad so they don't take you away'.  :D  I work with a great group of people and will miss them if this all goes through.

He met with several current and former coworkers, and interviewed at least one neighbor.  He also indicated that he would also do a local records checks with the city and county law enforcement agencies in the places I had lived over the past ten years.  One friend from another state (that I had listed as a reference) called me up later to say that he had been interviewed as well.

I have a number of international friends, both Stateside and abroad, and I had quite a stack of informational forms to complete for all of them.  The litmus test, as I understand it, is that a 'close and ongoing relationship' with a Foreign National can be defined as 'are you comfortable with that person coming over and having dinner with little or no advance warning'.  I am not beholden to them in any way, and so they do not pose a security risk in any way, but yes, I am comfortable having them over for dinner.  Several of my friends I had not seen physically in years, but we communicate periodically through Facebook, and so fell under the reporting requirements.  Some of the information required was impossible to obtain (I don't know some current contact information other than email addresses, for example), but the Investigator seemed to shrug it off, stating that more information would be requested if it was deemed necessary.  He did ask, however for the A-numbers of my friends who were now Stateside.  This was a little awkward for me, but after explaining the situation to my friends, they were willing to provide that information.  (Thanks guys!)

Then I entered that case approval purgatory and adjudicatory limbo, but did contact DSS regularly every two weeks or so for an update on the status of my investigation.  Each time I was told that my case was 'still under review.'  The investigator called me back two or three times with clarifying questions, which I was able to easily answer over the phone.  At one point, he requested that additional documentation to be scanned and emailed to him.  No new information, just documentation supporting for what was already contained within the SF-86.

Finally, several weeks after my target date had come and gone, I was told by DSS that I had gone through adjudication and the Final Review Panel.  I was on the Register at last!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,