HELP! Failed one portion of full scope poly. Now what?

For a period of time between early 2011 and early 2012 I was selling small quantities of pot to friends and family. At the age of 36, I was in bad financial and emotional shape at the time. I wasn’t then or ever really a pot smoker (I smoked maybe 2-3 times per year) but my drinking was off the charts as my soon-to-be ex-wife and I were in the final death throws of our marriage.

I completed my SF86 (not sure if I can list the agency but it is in IC in the Maryland suburbs of DC) in April of this year. To the question regarding sale, manufacture, etc of illegal drugs in the last 7 years, I answered “no” which is the truth. I have a bankruptcy from 2012 but since everything is paid on time. I have a misdemeanor trespassing from the ex-wife from 2013. No cops involved but she filed at the courthouse several days later. We resolved the case through mediation and charges dropped.

My investigation is on a fast track and I’ve been honest about drinking (currently sober in AA since Sep 2014) and drug use (none since 2012) and had my polygraph today. We started with the CI portion but all I could think about was the omission of my drug sale activities, and, as such the examiner had a hard time with my results. To be fair, I was moving my head quite a bit but she never said that I couldn’t. Before we started on the BI portion I disclosed the pot sale activity. When asked why I didn’t list it on the SF86, I told her it was beyond the scope (7 years) and was afraid of being disqualified. Oddly enough, I passed the BI portion by keeping my head still, I think. We returned to CI, but the results were inconclusive. I have an appointment to retake the CI later this week. I’m not worried about that. I’ve never done anything that she asked about but I am worried about what happens next.

  1. Will my investigation be “re-opened”? Are they going to probe more?
  2. Am I now disqualified? If so, how long?
  3. Is there anything else likely to happen?

I have too much riding on this and was just plain nervous. Any help any of you can offer is much appreciated.


I am no expert on such things but the fact that you are already re-scheduled suggests (to me at least) that they don’t need to do a whole new round of digging before hooking you up to the box again.

Try not to be too nervous… even though it is perfectly normal to be freaking out right about now


The emojis are 100% dead on b$@*s accurate in describing how I’m feeling right about now. BUT, like you mentioned, it has to be a somewhat positive sign if I’ve been rescheduled. I’ll hang my hat on that for the next now-less-than 48 hours till retest.

I know you guys get inundated with lots of inane questions, but I’d like to thank you for your response. I do appreciate it very much.


It is quite common for NSA polygraph operators to initially accuse an applicant of “having problems,” to interrogate them in hopes of getting disqualifying admissions, and then to invite them back for one or more “re-tests.” To address your questions in order:

  1. I don’t know.
  2. It seems unlikely. If your polygraph operator thought she had obtained a disqualifying admission from you, she would have obtained a confession statement and you would not have been scheduled for a “re-test.”
  3. You can expect more interrogation during your “re-test” and a heightened chance that you’ll be accused of trying to beat the polygraph.

NSA, like CIA, uses a polygraph technique called the “Relevant/Irrelevant Test.” You can read more about it beginning at p. 122 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector. - Thanks for your response too. I’m not anti-polygraph per se but I certainly understand where you are coming from. Having a little insight into the process might be too dangerous for me at the moment though, but it’s appreciated.

Update: I received an appointment for my psych evaluation and another OPI today. What I have not received is a call from my initial BI or any other to discuss what I disclosed to the polygraph examiner yesterday. I know things move slowly in gov’t but I would imagine when they stop for a “failed” polygraph, they really full stop. I’m reading these events as positive occurrences.

Nobody likes the poly… not even the investigators coz I think they are all swamped.

It reminds me of an old joke… maybe from Franklin Ajaye:

“Trojan Condoms. I hate 'em. But I use 'em.”


Hmmm. Lots to address here. If you are working in the IC I assume you will be going TS SCI with full scope, also indicated by both CI and BI info being tested. Therefor, you will need speak to items going back 10 years per the SF86. They will likely take issue with the 7/10 year out of scope defense. So best to tell them you read it as a 7 year not a 10 year question, but it is a 10 year question. Selling, no matter the quantity, is different from using and smoking. Using, no matter how few…matters. Smoking is smoking. That said…you being moved on to other aspects of the process is highly encouraging, regardless of what we think. If they felt you were a no-go…you would be a no-go and dead in the water. You do not pass go, you do not collect $200 (move on to other areas). So again, encouraging. You are going to be nervous on every Poly even years from now on a reinvestigation, you will be nervous. I’ve had 4 and I still hate them trojans, er Poly’s (nod to squirrel).
Here are your issues as I see them:
Age at time of sales: 38. You knew better. This normally takes at least 3 years to mitigate use. Sales…is considered worse
Use: See above
Trespassing charge: again time helps. But you are looking at a double trifecta here Drug use, drug sales, criminal charges, bad finances, possibly concealing info if it is a 10 year look back vice 7, possible counter measures…

In your favor: you are moving through to other areas. Rapidly. Has credit improved to high 700s. low 800’s now? You MAY get a saving grace under the “periods of stress, unlikely to repeat themselves.” It can cover a lot of sins if they are interrelated and I think these may all be tagged on to the death throes of marriage. I’ve been there. Exquisite pain. Stupid decisions that seemed oddly rational at time. Been there. Done that, got a few T shirts. Be honest, hold nothing back you will be nervous no matter what so let that part not worry you further. You have a significant period of many bad things. But you are moving forward to a follow up Poly. Had they really had enough at that point I believe you would be eliminated. That may still happen if you get a follow up interview after the Poly which I would expect. But you may also get a clean bill of health.

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@amberbunny, I know I’ve said this before… you’re really good at this.


@Trey3…I agree about @amberbunny, very helpful and detailed in the responses


Thanks much for your response @amberbunny. I was hoping you’d chime in. I’ve lurked around here as a non-member long enough to respect your opinion. Lots going on for sure back in that period of my life. It was a real s*&t show, replete with that exquisite pain and stupid decision, but alas, no T shirts for me just a child support obligation that was fulfilled earlier this month.

Not to be argumentative, but I double checked the form for that specific sale question and it says seven years. I’m almost certain it’s the SF86 (it’s not denoted anywhere on the 48 page document) but the instructions emailed from the recruiter clearly say to fill out SF86 in eQIP. However, I haven’t had enough interaction with my recruiter to ascertain her abilities. As I’ve read, some of them fall off the face of the Earth. She falls into that category.

Before we started the BI portion she asked if I had EVER been involved in serious crime and obviously the sale came to mind and I disclosed it. But then I “passed” (I forget the exact word or phrase she used) the BI portion. She limited her questioning regarding personal involvement with drugs during the polygraph to “in the last two years”.

Credit these days is just north of 700, the bankruptcy still follows me but I’ve paid every bill every time since and every other aspect of my life is straight as an arrow.

Update 2: I got a call from my BI who needs one last reference to contact her tonight as my case is being closed and sent to “the customer” tomorrow whatever that might mean. She made NO mention of the polygraph though I tend to believe those are separate functions.

Thanks again for your input and insight.

We use the July 2008 version of the SF86. There are several variants. Thankfully this one is only 17 pages with signature forms. The instructions here state 7 years unless it is for an SSBI (old term), but basically means a TS BI. So I instruct everyone to go back 10 wherever they see “7”, and forever if it is an “ever” question. Each agency has their own standards. Some may literally want 24 months of no recreational use and may be comfortable with use outside of 5 years to include buying and selling. I usually look at buying and selling as part and parcel of using as one must get it in some way, and though MJ smokers are generally easy going and generous…at some point you buy or sell some.Time is your biggest friend here. If they see it as anything out of 24 months as old, outside 5 as very old, and outside 7 as “fallen off the earth,” you are sitting pretty. Make sure you keep copies and always report it to the same degree moving forward. If your responses to the Poly and BI are congruent with the rest of the BI…you are good to go. End of marriage is indeed an awful place to be. Normally rational people make irrational choices and decisions that in retrospect we ask “what was I thinking?” But at that moment we somehow convinced ourselves it was a good call. Keep us posted, and do not be too discouraged if you get denied. Appeal and simply prove through current standards how you overcame all of it, are in a great place and you realize how dumb some of that behavior was. The appeal is by no means a rubber stamp of the denial.

Thanks again @amberbunny.

Update 3: I just successfully completed the CI portion of the polygraph. I got a different, more experienced examiner this time who did a superb job preparing and relaxing me. I feel like passed with flying colors though I know that’s not a thing. She did confirm successful completion of the BI portion on Monday when we discussed the MJ sales. There was no follow-up personal interview, at least not yet. I was waiting and ready for an ambush.

The last reference my investigator needed got in contact with her last night, so that’s done and my recruiter contacted me today regarding my scheduled start date in August. So, I think I’m sitting pretty. Honestly, I’m trying to temper my excitement with a healthy dose of “what if”.

Thanks again for all the input.



Don’t fear a personal interview. Honestly if they wish to exclude you they will. Getting a PI is your chance to provide a reasonable explanation for a situation or reading. If it is explainable…it is understandable. Plenty of my employees have had PI’s and all but 2 were cleared.

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I have to agree with your assessment @amberbunny. Why waste any further resources on me if I’m dead in the water anyway.

Update 4: So far the only people I’ve heard from are my recruiter and a scheduler. I’ll take that as a good sign. On Jul 10 I’ve got a psychological assessment, HR wrap up, and a psychological interview… in that order. It seems odd to do an HR wrap up in between a test and interview but, to be honest, I have no idea what’s in an HR wrap up or what I’ll encounter in the psychological interview.

Full steam ahead and fingers crossed.


Not sure how you get the interview, after the assessment, unless that is an out-brief. And having the HR wrap up in between…seems if you were not going forward they will cut ties right away. If the assessment and interview do not line up with a possible predetermined outcome…you might get a re-consideration.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised that I haven’t heard anything regarding my status, should I? I completed the psychological assessment and interview no problem, I think. The HR wrap up was just a quick stand-up meet-n-greet with my recruiter and another candidate which I found odd but what about this process isn’t. But, I did learn that because I applied for a coop program that my clearance process is expedited because the program has a firm start date. Emails to my recruiter have gone unanswered but that’s been the norm unless she needs some bit of information. I’m still of the belief that no news is good news until it isn’t.

Hi! This thread has been interesting and I came across it because I searched “Wrap up interview”. @bobluvsu, good luck with your remaining assessments.

I received my appointment for my Poly and Psych exams. My itinerary has a “HR wrap up interview” between my Psych Assessment and my Psych interview. Can anyone tell me what the wrap up interview is?

And do Polys (full scope) really take 5 hours? According to my itinerary, that is how much time I am blocked out for that.

@archaeochica, I can say that my HR Wrap Up was nothing more than a 10 minute stand up meeting with my recruiter. Nothing more, nothing less. Maybe that’s because I’m entering a co-op program so perhaps they take more time and formality with more seasoned candidates. I can also say that my poly was about 2.5 hours though I think I had 6 hours blocked on my itinerary. Keep in mind that I think all the times listed on the itinerary are “placeholder” times and you’ll be called as they work through the group of candidates present. Be prepared to wait… a lot. Bring a book as no tech is permitted but you probably already know that. Good luck!

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Bahaha, I wish I had known to bring a book… But at a certain agency, they play HGTV in the waiting room… It was an interesting twist. About 60 of us staring at Chip and Joanna for a few hours.


We only got the weather channel

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