Clearances can be denied only on the basis of substantive information that raises trustworthiness. They are never denied on the basis of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. DoD has gone to great lengths to ensure that the clearance process is fair and balanced. Clearances aren’t denied without people getting a chance to give their side of the story —to explain or rebut the adverse information. This is called due process. It includes essential appeal rights, which people may opt to exercise to challenge clearance denials or revocations to an independent Clearance Appeal Board.
These rights include the option to either present a written appeal directly to the Board or to make a personal appearance before a DoD administrative judge that will be considered by the Board in its independent decision.
HOW LONG DOES THE CLEARANCE PROCESS TAKE?
Generally, the clearance process can take anywhere from 2 to 9 months, depending on the type of investigation and whether serious issues were developed.
The background investigation for Top Secret clearance will normally take longer than the background investigation for Secret clearance.
The higher the clearance level, the deeper the investigation into your background, and the more time it is likely to take. If complicated issues come up during an investigation, it will likely take even longer. The completion time depends on several factors. Expect the investigation to take longer if you have:
- Lived or worked in several geographic locations or overseas
- Traveled outside of the United States.
- Relatives who have lived outside of the United States.
- Background information that is difficult to obtain or involves issues that require an expansion of your case
Once the initial adjudication has been made and as long as you are assigned to a sensitive position or have access to classified information or material, you will fall under the Continuous Evaluation Program (CEP).
By definition, CEP involves the uninterrupted assessment of a person for retention of a security clearance or continuing assignment to sensitive duties. This ensures that you maintain high standards of conduct and that questionable conduct or activities are promptly reported for adjudicative assessment.
CEP also includes reinvestigation at given intervals based on the types of duties you perform and clearance level.
- Individuals in Critical Sensitive positions are reinvestigated every 5 years
- Those in Non-Critical Sensitive positions are reinvestigated every 10 years if they have access to Secret material, and every 15 years if the access is to Confidential information