Foreign Travel while TS clearance is pending?

So I’m a current federal employee for an agency that only requires a Public Trust clearance. Back in September I was offered an OCONUS position at a different agency that requires a Top Secret clearance. I am in the middle of that process (EQIP already done, Investigator interview done, etc.).

I accepted the position and it’s OCONUS in a country I’ve never been too. I thought it’d be a good idea to travel there for 7-8 days to enjoy some time off work while also strolling around a new country to try and absorb what I’m walking into. I mentioned this to the DCSA investigator (the trip was booked a week after the EQIP was submitted) and he said there was no issue with it. I also mentioned it to the HR rep for the new sponsoring agency and they also said there’s no issue with it. So I checked both fronts and got a go ahead.

I recently listened to the Clearance Jobs - Security Clearance Careers podcast, the episode on ‘Summer Travel and Your Security Clearance’ where they talk about reporting duties, SEAD 3, and more strict reporting duties for foreign contacts. Would these rules currently apply to me since I technically don’t have a clearance yet, rather it’s in development? I plan to act accordingly as I will be living in the country later on down the road, but as far as this one trip, I want to clear the air on just how strict I have to be with reporting duties. I am going alone to a major tourist city and will undoubtedly meet many people. Common sense will be used, obviously, but if it’s determined that I should really keep to myself then I have no issue doing that either. The country is considered ‘friendly’ and an Ally to the US.

Any thoughts? Stories that relate?

From the investigation standpoint we investigate things that have already happened, not future things so it doesn’t change the investigation. If you have contact information for the security department at your new job that requires the Top Secret I would probably contact them and let them know just because it is better to over report than under report. Since they are already investing in you I would try to abide by any reporting standards they have even though you haven’t started yet out of an abundance of caution. As far as foreign contacts while you are there, casually meeting someone like a waiter, the taxi driver, greeting and having casual conversation with another tourist is not an issue. If someone shows an unusual interest in you, tries to get information out of you, approaches you for espionage purposes, if you have contact with foreign government, police, defense, intelligence, etc. If you decide to have close and continuing contact with a foreign national that you meet while there, this types of things, then that would need to be reported. A casual conversation about the weather and the best place to eat with a person you will likely never see again is not something to worry about.

I appreciate the insight! I will be keeping your advice in mind but certainly won’t let it stop me from communicating with others, etc. Since the position is OCONUS, I’m assuming that they’re used to people self-reporting many upon many ‘foreign contacts’

I went abroad twice during my TS investigation to a few euro countries. Both times I told about that in advance. First time I had to go in person after the trip for debrief, second time it was done over the phone. Nothing to worry about.