Out for a walk with E and the dog, musing about what life will be like if I actually ever receive an offer from State. While waiting for a walk sign at an intersection, I snuck a peak at the iPhone and found an amazing message. No flashing lights or capital letters. Just a simple text email with the subject line reading “October Invitation” and instructions to respond in the next 4 days if I’m ready to jump in to the October A-100 class. I have to update my resume to reflect my too-many-years of experience, find my undergrad and law school transcripts, and send it all to the Registrar’s office so they can compute my starting salary, but I’ll be responding positively today.
After over a year in process, we are very much in shock that this is all really happening. More details when the shock wears off a little.
I’m back in California after a few weeks in Paris and London with my family. Despite my stress about the ongoing adjudication and my weekly Skype calls to diplomatic security for a status update, we managed to relax, eat some great food, explore the cities, and see some fantastic modern art (one of the common interests held by my three kids, my spouse, and me).
After returning over the week-end, we received our giant stack of vacation held mail today from the post office. At the bottom of the stack, I found the State Department golden ticket in a government-issued plain white envelope. Having cleared the suitability review (apparently two days after DSS issued my top secret security clearance), my name is now officially listed on the political cone register.
In response to my query, I received an email back from State indicating that I am 30th out of 80 on the register, many of whom are on a do not call list. Rumor has it that State will begin to issue offers to join the October A-100 class at the end of this week. Hopefully I’ll reach the top of the list by the first or second wave of political offers.
It seems that I just called too early in the day a week ago as my call today brought the magic words: ”your security clearance was granted on 8/11, and your file has been forwarded to HR. Good luck.” I just sent off an email to HR to see if my file has cleared “suitability review,” the final step in the process before HR adds my name to the political register. Based on timing and past numbers, it looks like this means I’ll start my training in Washington, DC, in late October (yeah, I know, I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m not superstitious).
I’m still in a bit of shock that I’ve finally passed another stage in this incredibly painful process…
I haven’t posted in awhile because, frankly, nothing has been happening. My security clearance field investigation has now been complete for over a month and I am not-so-patiently awaiting the conclusion of the adjudication phase. As I understand it, some 20% or so of all applicants receive a security clearance immediately at the conclusion of their field investigation. For the remaining 80%, including me, there is a complete review of the investigation file by an independent person unaffiliated with the case team.
There are thirteen categories, called guidelines, which require a candidate’s file to be referred to adjudication. For each guideline, there is an overall description of the concern, a list conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying, and a list of conditions that could mitigate those security concerns. During adjudication, every incident that falls within one of the guidelines must be evaluated and, if it rises to the level of a security concern, must have facts sufficient to mitigate the concern.
The thirteen adjudicatory guidelines include the following:
(1) Guideline A: Allegiance to the United States
(2) Guideline B: Foreign Influence
(3) Guideline C: Foreign Preference
(4) Guideline D: Sexual Behavior
(5) Guideline E: Personal Conduct
(6) Guideline F: Financial Considerations
(7) Guideline G: Alcohol Consumption
(8) Guideline H: Drug Involvement
(9) Guideline I: Psychological Conditions
(10) Guideline J: Criminal Conduct
(11) Guideline K: Handling Protected Information
(12) Guideline L: Outside Activities
(13) Guideline M: Use of Information Technology Systems
As with most everything concerning the State Department and its personnel decisions, the adjudicatory guidlines are publicly documented. The details of each guideline and its associated mitigating factors can be found here: http://www.state.gov/m/ds/clearances/60321.htm.
My understanding is that most cases that run into significant problems have at least one follow-up interview during which the field investigators follow up those areas of concern in excruciating detail. In my case, although I am not surprised that my file resulted in adjudication (I am 43 with a lifetime of experiences), I had no follow-up interviews and my investigators raised no substantive concerns.
I would, however, feel much better if my next call to diplomatic security results in the magic word: ”your security clearance is now in effect.” We’ll see what happens next week….