Cleared Defense Contractors Unwilling to Sponsor Upgrade to Clearances


Dear Sir or Ms.: has published stories about the cost that is involved in the security clearance adjudication process. One story in particular addresses this subject: “How Much Does It Really Cost to Get a Security Clearance?” (Author William Henderson, 7 August 2011).

Mr. Henderson writes “It’s true that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which conducts over 90% of all federal security clearance investigations, conducts these investigations on a fee-for-service basis. However, almost all of these investigations are paid for by other government agencies. Less than 1% of the contractors who have their clearance investigations done by OPM pay for the investigations. There are no Department of Defense (DoD) contractors that pay for clearance investigations done by OPM.”

Mr. Henderson goes on to explain that there are indirect costs associated with the security clearance adjudication process. He says that these indirect costs are borne by a cleared defense contractor in terms of staff time devoted to completing, submitting, and filing of paperwork and forms associated with submitting someone for a clearance. Mr. Henderson also says a cleared defense contractor incurs additional indirect costs through staff time involved in the maintenance of clearances for personnel.

Assuming Mr. Henderson’s analysis of who bears the costs involved of security clearance adjudications are still true in 2015, and if less than one percent of cleared defense contractors are required to pay for the adjudication of clearances, why then are so few cleared defense contractors willing to sponsor an already cleared candidate (who they would be willing to extend a contingent offer of employment letter to) for an upgrade to their existing clearance?

I have spoken with numerous recruiters with cleared defense contractors and universally, all of them say that their firms do not sponsor candidates for clearance upgrades, which ends a candidate’s consideration for the job. My experience has been that recruiters will not even consider a candidate if the candidate does not have the desired clearance, no matter how good of a match the candidate appears to be for the job.

If money is not the obstacle as Mr. Henderson’s information would seem to suggest, as it would be expected to be a valid reason, then what would be the primary impediment to cleared defense contractors sponsoring candidates for clearance upgrades?

Thank you for your time and for sharing your thoughts about my question.


If you are dealing with government contractor recruiters, the issue most likely isn't the unwillingness to sponsor an upgrade but the needs of the customer already requiring an existing higher level clearance. Most likely the government customer has strict requirements of the clearance level of the personnel they will consider.