Fired after Q clearance application was "discontinued" but not denied

I accepted a job in April this year that required a Q-level clearance from DOE and upon accepting the job, I signed a form saying I hadn’t used any illegal drugs in over 12 months. I believed this to be true at the time. I started the job in June, and began my clearance application in July. While filling out the SF86 eQIP form, I decided I should be 100% certain about my dates of use so I checked with friends, and it turns out that I smoked weed last summer in August 2017. I decided to tell the truth on the SF86, even though it contradicted my previous form. I’d read the advice several times that honesty is more important than perfection, so that’s what I did.

Fast forward to August 2018, I got a letter from the DOE saying my clearance application was “discontinued” but not denied, and that further applications wouldn’t be accepted until September 2018. Then, a week later, I was terminated in a meeting by my manager. This was very unexpected to me, I thought I would just have to re-apply this month. But it turns out, my employer has a corporate policy, separate from the DOE, that says if a new employee’s initial clearance application is postponed in any way, there is no choice but to terminate, with no appeal rights.

So, now I’m stuck without a job, even though I’m still eligible for a clearance. I have a lot of questions about what’s next:

-What’s the official status of my application? Terminated, suspended, postponed, etc
-Will this affect future clearance applications? How so?
-Will future employers know the reason for my termination? -What should I put on job applications as to my reason for leaving?

Thanks for any advice / help.

Looks like your shopping for answers here in an effort to get around clearance issues since you were dishonest. You won’t get any help from me.

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Your application was terminated. The state of a future clearance will be in limbo since you were dishonest and that is recorded. It can only get better with time. You have to prove you can now be trusted since you were dishonest. In order to do that, you are going to have to prove you are no longer using drugs and have taken steps to take care of your drug problem. Then get a job where you are in a position of trust and show you can be trusted. You had a hill to climb before and now you have to climb a mountain.

Reason for leaving: be honest! The whole thing happened because you weren’t honest and now you seem to not be grasping that you weren’t honest. The whole thing with clearances is keeping secrets and being honest.

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Thanks for the reply. To be clear, I never intentionally lied. I quickly filled out a 1 page, check yes/no form for the contracting company upon being hired. I incorrectly checked that I hadn’t used drugs in 12 months, but it was because my memory failed me, I wasn’t trying to mislead. I realize that that may not be any better than lying; I should’ve been certain at first and I take responsibility for that. I was much more thorough while filling out the SF86, and it is 100% truthful.

I think it should be pretty easy to prove I don’t / never had a drug problem. I’ve only smoked weed a handful of times in my life, I’ve never even purchased it (only accepted a hit from friend/roommate), I now live in a different state, I’m not in frequent contact with those people anymore, I’ve passed two drug tests since then, and I have plenty of people to testify these things for me.

This is the letter I received from DOE.

“Discontinuation of Access Eligibility Determination”

Intentional or not - it looks bad. Now you will have to report that you were fired from a job and explain why on any SF86 submissions in the next seven years. That’s why I said it’s a mountain to climb now. Once they do the investigation next time and it gets to adjudication, all this will have to be taken into consideration. If you wait longer and stay clean then do things to prove you can be trusted then you’ll have a better chance of getting cleared.

Based on the information provided, your clearance application stopped (terminated) as result of the recent drug use. So, you are eligible to apply for a national security position since you weren’t denied and don’t need to wait a year. As for the drug use, generally you will need to wait at least 12 months since last use or 15 months (recommended). Because your clearance wasn’t adjudicated, it’s possible that you’ll go through the process all over again.

As for whether the employer will know the reason for your termination, you do not need to disclose the details. It depends on the question asked on an official written document. For the SF86, you will need to list the termination per the question. Just be concise and on the point. You don’t need to go through details, save that for the background investigation interview. At that point, be sure to bring documentation and such.

Don’t be discouraged and we all make mistakes. If I were you, I would read up on this forum for some information and reach whatever security-clearance related resources (ie adjudicative desk reference)
to prepare for the next. If you really want it, seek assistance from a security clearance professional or attorney.

Also be mindful that some agencies, particularly DOJ agencies, have a zero tolerance policy on drug use regardless of last use. Again, don’t be discouraged. Be honest, but keep it sweet and simple. Obviously, don’t lie. Bottom of line, don’t volunteer too much information and stick with facts (no BS).

I was terminated twice, including one for falsifying a document. That was a honest mistake on my part and I disclosed the mistake. During the background investigation interview, I was brutally honest and had my documentations ready. Nonetheless, I was granted clearance eligibility. Learn your lesson, keep your head up and move forward. Don’t let it define you. You’ll be fine and good luck.

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Yes . . . Everyone here recommends that you are as honest as possible. Usually, that produces the best outcome. The problem that I see in your case is that when the true came out, it was discovered that you had not been clean for 12 months when you applied. This produces TWO problems. One, intentional or not, you provided false information. Second, when the truth came out, it was discovered that you didn’t meet one of their basic requirements.

Yes, it’s tough. It’s supposed to be. You didn’t “make a mistake” filling out your forms. You provided information that was incorrect because you didn’t know the correct answer. That not only reflects on your application but on your ability to do you job and to protect whatever information you are given access to. You provided information to the government and then, after it was done, you decided that you needed to verify it.


Drug use not a big issue. In fact it is common. The issue here is because of how recent it was and how you appeared to be dishonest. Drug use though serious could be mitigated with time and unfortunately 12 months isnt enough to be considered especially for a Q clearance.

Actually . . . As noted in the original post, twelve months is exactly the amount of time they were looking for. That isn’t the problem.

Correct. I had meant to say that dishonesty was the larger factor here.

I personally don’t think dishonesty will be a larger factor here because 1) it was not intentional, 2) the poster did not appear to falsify a Government document, 3) the poster didn’t lie to an investigator and 4) the poster self-reported it. So, he should be able to mitigate it.

@dave019 provided us a case not too long ago on the subject of falsification. Basically, it will be the burden of the Government to show the intent or a pattern. Marko posted a few blog entries, which candidates were given numerous opportunities to correct falsehood, and the candidates did not even though some candidates were able to mitigate some issues, but not the lack of candor issue.

OP should apply again whenever s/he sees fit and I do not anticipate this will be big of an issue unless there are other unstated/undisclosed issues.

I will certainly reapply when I have a job that will sponsor. Its most unfortunate that I’m likely ineligible for my previous position now because I was fired, even though the issue I was fired for is no longer an issue. Nothing else to do but move on, I guess.

I appreciate your advice. This has been especially difficult because a lot of my questions could be easily answered by the FSO of my previous employer. I’ve been trying to contact them, as advised by the HR department, but s/he has been out of office for over a month now. That, or I’m getting screened/blocked from communication, which would be even more perplexing.

I think that you are still missing the point . . . The issue that you were fired for IS still an issue. You signed paper work that said you hadn’t smoked for twelve months. That wasn’t true. That is why you were fired. Had you given them the correct information the first time around, you wouldn’t have started work so you wouldn’t have been fired. They MAY have told you reapply after a month but now I’m sure that they are pretty sour on you.


You’re right, I wouldn’t have been hired at that time if I had gotten my info correct initially, but it was never mentioned to me during my last meeting that that contributed to my termination. My manager, the HR manager, and the paperwork only cited a corporate policy, saying “Employees whose initial request for a clearance is withdrawn are not eligible for an exception pursuant to corporate policy XY. Therefore, your employment will terminate effective today.”

XY refers to an exception policy, where tenured and previously cleared employees have an appeal process available.

So what I’m saying is, I WAS wrong about signing a corporate form saying I hadn’t used marijuana in the last 12 months. But that only indirectly lead to my termination, it wasn’t THE reason.

Splitting hairs isn’t going to help you. Your request for clearance was withdrawn because you provided incorrect information. You were fired because your request for clearance couldn’t be completed. If it wasn’t THE reason, all of the other reasons flowed from that.

Learn from this and move forward. Yes, you’ve made the process of getting a cleared job more difficult. Not impossible.