FAQ

What are the adjudicative guidelines?

The adjudicative guidelines are established for all U.S. government civilian and military personnel, consultants, contractors, employees of contractors, licensees, certificate holders or grantees and their employees and other individuals who require access to classified information. They apply to persons being considered for initial or continued eligibility for access to classified information, to include sensitive compartmented information and special access programs, and are to be used by government departments and agencies in all final clearance determinations. Government departments and agencies may also choose to apply these guidelines to analogous situations regarding persons being considered for access to other types of protected information.

How is a determination regarding eligibility for access to classified information made?

Decisions regarding eligibility for access to classified information take into account factors that could cause a conflict of interest and place a person in the position of having to choose between his or her commitment to the United States, including the commitment to protect classified information, and any other compelling loyalty. Access decisions also take into account a person’s reliability, trustworthiness and ability to protect classified information. No coercive policing could replace the self-discipline and integrity of the person entrusted with the nation’s secrets as the most effective means of protecting them. When a person’s life history shows evidence of unreliability or untrustworthiness, questions arise whether the person can be relied on and trusted to exercise the responsibility necessary for working in a secure environment where protecting classified information is paramount.

What does the adjudicative process consist of?

The adjudicative process is an examination of a sufficient period of a person’s life to make an affirmative determination that the person is an acceptable security risk. Eligibility for access to classified information is predicated upon the individual meeting these personnel security guidelines. The adjudication process is the careful weighing of a number of variables known as the whole-person concept. Available, reliable information about the person, past and present, favorable and unfavorable, should be considered in reaching a determination. In evaluating the relevance of an individual’s conduct, the adjudicator should consider the following factors:

(1) The nature, extent, and seriousness of the conduct;

(2) the circumstances surrounding the conduct, to include knowledgeable participation;

(3) the frequency and recency of the conduct;

(4) the individual’s age and maturity at the time of the conduct;

(5) the extent to which participation is voluntary;

(6) the presence or absence of rehabilitation and other permanent behavioral changes;

(7) the motivation for the conduct;

(8) the potential for pressure, coercion, exploitation, or duress; and

(9) the likelihood of continuation or recurrence.

How is a security clearance determination made?

Each case must be judged on its own merits, and final determination remains the responsibility of the specific department or agency. Any doubt concerning personnel being considered for access to classified information will be resolved in favor of the national security.

The ability to develop specific thresholds for action under these guidelines is limited by the nature and complexity of human behavior. The ultimate determination of whether the granting or continuing of eligibility for a security clearance is clearly consistent with the interests of national security must be an overall common sense judgment based upon careful consideration of the relevant adjudicative guidelines, each of which is to be evaluated in the context of the whole person.