Full Scope Vs CI Poly Difference

From what I gather, the questions on the SF86 form are reviewed during the the poly process and if I’m applying for CI that more of the foreign influence questions would be of interest which makes sense.

So my question is if your SF 86 form is reviewed for both FS and counter intelligence isn’t the CI almost the same experience as the full scope as the SF 86 covers all aspect of your life


A full scope can go back to 5 years old if I took a piece of candy from a store which then goes past 10 years for a TS

Thanks for the responses!

Full scope will go back 10 years with exception of felonies, drugs, alcohol, firearms and explosives. Those are “Have you ever” type questions. So if as a juvenile you had information expunged or removed you are required to report it. Don’t take chances with expunged info. ALWAYS report it. Even if plead down or dismissed. We lost a senior member of our company for not speaking to a dismissed DUI charge right at 10 years prior. Why? Because he kept answering Poly questions as if it never happened. I recommend stating there was an arrest, the judge dismissed it. This way they cannot claim a lack of candor which in most cases is far more damaging than an arrest. Definitely more damaging than a 10 year old arrest.

You’ll find this helpful, I hope:


I’m not aware of any poly that strictly asks you to confirm the SF-86 questions. That happens during the subject interview for a SSBI. Don’t expect the polygrapher to ask you 5 times to confirm where you lived 7 years ago, lol.

As far as length of time the poly can go back, I wouldn’t hang my hat on hoping they will limit the questions to 5, 7, or 10 years. If you were an anarchist in college, you’ve got a problem still.

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Thanks for the replies to the my questions and clarifying he differences between the 2 clearance. I remember seeing the article that you sent and refreshing my memory with the article

For example, if I state I smoked weed daily from 16 to 23 and that occurred 15 - 20 years ago, would I have time on my side? Also, if the next question they ask “do you plan on using illegal drugs in the future” and I answer truthfully which is NO, can that issue be mitigated as they would see via measuring that I didn’t lie?

I understand that if they ask if I planned to overthrow the government 15 years ago and I said yes that would probably be a heavier weighted question that would be a problem that could not be mitigated with time?


@amberbunny yes, all records expunged / sealed or otherwise I would list on my my paperwork.

Also, I would definitely list the prior clearance denial as well as I remember seeing that listed on the questions list on the form as it would be hard to “forget” if your clearance was denied or had other issues

Assuming we’re talking about a full scope poly here, since drug use isn’t covered by a counterintelligence poly, then you’re correct. Distant past drug use is better than recent. Also expect that they’ll probe whether you ever dealt it too since you were a daily user. Keep in mind some agencies consider different things more adverse. Imagine what the DEA thinks of a daily weed smoker, or the NSA thinks of a hacker.

In a full scope they’ll also be interested in any major crime you haven’t previously disclosed. There is no mitigation for concealing something that could be used against you as blackmail. Time won’t help.

Full disclosure: I’ve not had the pleasure of a full scope poly.

I would have zero concerns about “Weed” from 20 years ago between those ages. However, you are required to list expunged, dismissed, plead down charges. So if you did not list them because they were expunged…in my eyes…you have a problem. Over report instead of under report. Full disclosure even if outside 10 years. Time does mitigate most items to include felonies. Youthful stupidity though plentiful is highly over rated. We all had some. But in using the whole person concept who and what you were 20 years ago MAY not be who you are today. Or it MAY be the path you stayed on. There were plenty radicals in college during the 60’s who then went on to become the very establishment they thought they hated because some group or a professor said they were bad. As you age you begin to understand why certain things are the way they are. A higher level architectural view helps. Wisdom helps. Equivocating on an SF86 never does.
@amberbunny yes, all records expunged / sealed or otherwise I would list on my my paperwork.” does not jive with the language in item 22 Police Record. “Report information regardless of whether the record in your case has been sealed, expunged, or otherwise stricken from the court record or the charge was dismissed.”

Thanks you all for your useful feedback!

@amberbunny - I read on another 1 of your post that illegal drug use < 1 year is a no go and that < 2 for illegal prescription use would automatically be a issue to not proceed immediately at your company,

I’m not in this category, but I guess I’m confused about the criteria… when you or whoever reviews the clearance papers look at the amount and frequency to also use a criteria to proceed as < 5 times for weed would probably be able to get a full scope whereas a daily user of weed would have a harder time proving they have mitigated this issue and the investigator might be concerned of possible reuse within a certain timeframe. I’m assuming that the daily user has listed all their use and is being honest on the paperwork

I personally will not submit if a person used in the past 12 months, and is still of the age where MJ use is considered almost a right of passage. For me as a security manager I see that as under age 24. I base this on my experience seeing packages rejected when HR had a bigger influence on who was submitted than I did as Security Manager. Once that situation rectified (intentional use of word) and I gained near final say (defer to the PM), and 7 years direct contact with clearance division. I have had them contact me on at least 3 occasions requesting I pull back a package and wait 6 months if the prescription use was less than 2 years. I expect a conduct letter for anyone admitting to non legal use and I process about 3 to 5 of those monthly. The person is not obligated to discuss the content of the letter but they often have questions and I am willing to assist.

Non legal drug use also seems to have age limitations. Use when younger than 24 appears (so far) to be treated as more benign than it is at age 45 plus. I base this on seeing denial of clearances and that being the only issue listed. Possibly they have other issues not disclosed. On occasion a person gets a SOR and asks assistance in appealing. I do so as it is a learning process for me. It helps me keep my fingers on the current pulse of denials, and appeals.

Equally, there appears to be a different standard if one sells drugs or the drug is in a higher category than MJ, or the use/sale occurred when cleared. Generally speaking if it is older than 10 years it is mitigated by time. Even more serious issues.

General rule of thumb I use is 12 months for random experimental, 24 months for regular but say weekend use, 36 months if they were a daily user and 72 months if they admit to moving bales of MJ. I have come across quite a few daily users, one who smoked before the interview. And smelled of it. Rejected. This resulted in a near perfect clearances granted record for me. I take the time to heavily screen. Prior to this HR was more about quantity not quality. My way reduces the amount of paperwork I push (electrons) and gives more return on investment of time.