Failed Poly and future clearance

Will failing a polygraph for a prior TS/SCI investigation from a few years ago affect getting a non-poly TS clearance where the investigation was recently completed?

Yes. The adjudicator will have access to information from your prior failed polygraph and may rely on that information in making a decision on whether to grant clearance.

On the other hand, I know a few people who “failed” a poly with one agency but got cleared with another… one even “passed” a poly with another agency (DHS?) after failing the first one (DOJ? Not sure… but two different non-DOD agencies).

If you are going for a new clearance, the passage of time will help, and it will also help if you’re applying to a different agency.

In other words, the answer is… it depends.


I took a CI Poly over 2 years ago and was subsequently removed from the program before the 4th attempt. I was told they rarely go past 3 attempts and I was free to reapply to another program. I was never told I failed or anything. My clearance went to a loss of jurisdiction and has been stuck like that since. My company was notified to remove my access or something since it has been over two years. I am now being resubmitted for a new TS. I assume the passage of time should help, correct?

I don’t believe they ever officially use the word “fail.” They use words like inconclusive, can’t get a clear reading, possible use of countermeasures, elements of deception…or changed answers throughout Poly. I do know of people who had “inconclusive” poly results from one agency, but did reclear on several other contracts and take a poly later and get cleared. Each agency has their own standard. For instance, Border jobs have a high reject rate. Not real sure how to speak to that. Why do they screen many more out?


That’s what I thought too, at least for the IC. Don’t know about others (including CBP with their incredibly high ‘fail’ rate).


Within the polygraph community, the official term for “failing” a screening polygraph is “significant response,” and the official term for failing a so-called “specific incident” polygraph is “deception indicated.” But the bottom line is the same: the subject is deemed to be lying.

The subject doesn’t have to be “deemed to be lying” in order to be rejected for cleared service.

Both of which can be mitigated in followup interviews. Or…if people are lying…shock…as everyone does lie…it does successfully screen out people who think they are easily beating the system. About the only thing you and I will agree on is that there are plenty who are not guilty, that also get screened out, and clearly some who continue to lie and deceive, remain cleared. Spies. So I view it as a necessary evil I submit myself to as I find great value in my work.