Joining as a new Contractor - Interim Secret Questions

Good day to all!

I am new to the world of DoD contracting, and have a few questions regarding the process, specifically around the granting of Interim Secret clearance.

Long story short, I have a long story, and not all of it is perfect. To summarize, in what I would refer to as a “previous life,” I made some decisions that certainly could be determined to be less than positive.

I have accepted conditional employment with a contractor on a base locally, contingent upon ability to obtain a Secret clearance. I begin work at the end of the month for the contractor. Under the terms of employment, there is no specific mention of getting interim clearance, but I know that this is what the employer is going to pursue. I will be starting officially and thus have tendered my resignation with my present engagement.

To be frank, I am nervous about my ability to gain an interim clearance. In the very early 2000s, I had 2 DUI events (one dismissed, the other resulted in a conviction). In 2013 I was arrested for DUI again, and was convicted. Leading up to that time, I will also declare some drug use associated with that specific period of time. Since 2013, I have had the sum total of 2 parking tickets and nothing else. My entire life has changed - I was 100% sober for over 1 year (mandatory part of sentencing), completed all terms, got married, enjoyed much professional success, moved to a new area (far away from previous residence) and have been squeaky clean. I feel confident I can obtain clearance in the long-term final result, but for many obvious reasons am not so confident regarding interim. I never thought at this point I would be working in this capacity - of course if I had, perhaps my decisions would have been markedly different.

I will be filling out my SF-86 in just a couple of weeks and have been gathering the info, learning the form, etc. I plan of course to be 100% honest, but the info I have been able to gather around probability is anecdotal at best, and often dated to ~8-10 years ago. Could someone opine on recent experience and whether this is a fools errand? Are there steps I can take on the form to mitigate up-front since so many important facets of my life are markedly different that the time of the offense and other factors? I have no drug convictions or arrests. I also has small financial issues again associated with the same period, but those are all closed and settled (IRS late payment (settled through payment plan at the time, small credit dings). I have read that the passage of time cures many issues, but obviously 5 years is not outside of the 7 year window I am reporting many of these issues in, much less the lifetime issues mentioned above.

Many thanks in advance for your answers and experiences.

The only option is to be honest. You will have a chance to explain the circumstances around your problems and explain that you have changed your life. If everything is as you say, you should certainly be able to get a clearance.

But, you are not going to get an interim. You are very likely looking at one to two years to get your clearance. Does your employer have non-cleared work for you to do for that long?

Honestly, as I am new to this process, I am not 100% sure how this is all going to go. I know I am actually starting “work” on day 1 (paid) and that they are filing a waiver (not sure what that is) to get me access to computer, etc. They are aware of my history (what they allowed me to state to them, they didn’t want ANY specific details), and ran a pre-employment 7-year background/credit/drug screen prior to extending a start date.

The HR folks have been somewhat difficult to get in touch with as they aren’t local and the company does not have a huge presence.

Could you possibly explain to me what the “waiver” is? I was told it was really just to get PC access and the like. Nowhere in my actual employment offer is any reference made to “interim” clearance, only the ability to get Secret clearance (this seems to be fairly common).

Just for a frame of reference, my role will be Program Manager (don’t know if that helps clear up scope at all).

Thanks again for the reply. Honesty is not an issue here (or even in question) - the good news is the line between my previous exploits and now is extremely clearly defined.

I’m not familiar with the waiver you speak of, so I will let someone more knowledgeable answer that question for you.

I can however share with you my experience so that maybe you can gain a little insight. I, too, started work before submitting my SF-86 and my COE also states nothing about an interim, only that I must be able to obtain and maintain a secret security clearance. However, very early on, I asked my supervisor what would happen if I were denied interim, and was informed I would more than likely be let go, as my employment is “at will” and they can terminate my employment at any time. This was stated in my offer letter, and I was very aware of this from the beginning.

Fast forward, I was indeed denied an interim, likely for a single drug related misdemeanor and drug use in 2013. Lucky enough for me, no action was immediately taken by my employer, and my BI wrapped up pretty quickly. I am now awaiting adjudication and am fortunate to still be employed.

I share this with you mainly to urge you to check and see if you are located in an “at will” state, and check for similar language in your offer letter. You may also decide whether or not to ask your employer what will happen if you are denied an interim, which in my honest opinion will likely be the case. Good luck.

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Many thanks for the candid insight. I am indeed in an “At Will” state, and it is clearly stated in my agreement much as you indicate.

I am aware that there is a very good chance (nearly 100%) that I will be denied interim. In addition to the above legal matters," I have recent foreign travel, foreign family in close contact (Australia and Canada)…the list of reasons I have seen people denied for interim includes all of these so ya…

As far as asking the question to the employer, I will on day 1, but I have already given notice at my present engagement. I feel that the risk I am taking to move my career in this direction is justified - and the work is such a passion play for me that I can’t not go “all in” and hope for the best. It is nerve racking to say the least, however!

I find the seeming ambiguity and wide variety of outcomes to be interesting/disconcerting at times, but the process is what it is, and the outcome is what it is. I have worked for the past 7 years with immediate and wide-ranging access to millions, heck 10’s of millions of people’s PCI and HIPAA data without this level of scrutiny. Granted I am asking to be part of a national security position, I just find it ironic that the standards are so vastly different between hospitals/banks versus government.

Australia and Canada are friendly nations and there shouldn’t be any problem with them.

When you talk about the “ambiguity and wide variety of outcomes” you have to understand two things. First, the group of people that you are talking with here are from, mostly, one end of the spectrum. Most of us had problems or are having problems getting cleared. Many others fly through the process gleefully unaware that others have problems. Second, even the explanations that you get here are skewed because people aren’t always giving the full story to a bunch of strangers.


All noted and fair points.

I really didn’t mean for my comment about ambiguity to be negative as much as I am just noting my perceptions based on numerous sources…both personal/professional, as well as web-related.

I suffer from being dreadfully analytical and so given the broad spectrum of outcomes - my mind likes to spin in circles trying to figure out probability…lol.

Interims are tough as of late. My client will not accept them at all. They conduct their own BI’s. Even a valid TS from DoD will not necessarily cross over at TS here. I would maintain close ties with the current job, see if you can be put in for the interim and wait to see if you get it. If you get it, then give 2 week notice (obviously pulling back the current 2 week notice.) If they like you they will grant you favor-ability. That applies to both. Current job may say “lets see what happens, happy to have you aboard.” Or once they know you are leaving…most already forgot your name and one guy has his eye on your stapler and paper clips you leave behind. New job, if they really like you…may be willing to submit and wait. If you get the interim…I believe you will get the full clearance (assuming honesty on your post). Good PM’s are not an everyday seat to fill. So they may very well be willing to see if you clear first. If you do not, and still interested, they submit you and you remain in old position…or they find a non cleared position for you in the interim.

Thanks for the insight. Unfortunately it’s too late to retract my prior notice (I was on borrowed time anyways as my program there had essentially ended) so they were basically paying me to leave ASAP (and likely not much longer anyways). As to the new position, we will see what happens…prepare for the worst, hope for the best! I genuinely hope I am able to navigate this process successfully and work in this position. The work is of great interest to me personally and I have a skill set well suited to really excel and move the program meaningfully.

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I wanted to provide an update for the good of the community in case, for some reason, this thread comes up in a search.

Final outcome: Secret Granted.

Relevant Dates:
-06 NOV 18 eQIP submitted
-03 DEC 18 Interim Granted (wasn’t expecting that honestly)
-2 interviews, one in FEB 19, and a brief follow-up in APR 19
-30 AUG 19 Investigation Closed
-14 NOV 19 Secret Granted

I wanted to throw this up as while interims are obviously not common for someone with my history, it is possible. I can only emphasize that being completely honest, candid, forthcoming, and detailed on the SF86 and with an investigator is the only way any of this is going to happen and tip the odds in one’s favor. Use comments sections where applicable and provide vivid detail if needed. Provide alternate contacts and don’t skip a thing. Check the SF86 once, and check it again. Then again. Accuracy is key. Make the investigator’s job as easy as possible. I was actually complimented on the thoroughness of my form in my first interview. Lastly, have all relevant paperwork you accessed to fill in the SF86 in-hand if you have an interview. In my follow-up, a record I was unaware of from a case mentioned previously was inaccurate in the court system. As I had all of my disposition paperwork handy, the issue was resolved and clarified on the spot.

Sorry to babble on, but if you are reading this because you are thinking of going down this path…listen to the advice you get on this blog. Simply stated, it works.

Many thanks to all who contribute regularly to this blog and provide so much information and insight. This is a wonderful resource for people trying to navigate the process.


Surprised they granted you an interim. I assume with the backlog, they have relaxed some of the rules on the interims so people can get to work.

Glad it worked out and fantastic advice in your last post!

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Nobody was more surprised than I was to get the interim. Honestly, I thought for sure I wouldn’t get one.

I have been very fortunate not only to have been granted the interim, but also to have been able to apply my skills to further the mission of my directorate, and at the end of the day to contribute to the mission to which I’ve been assigned. I’m excited to be able to continue that work and contribute to the greater good.

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This was a great thread and I hope I have the same outcome as I am in a similar situation. Thank you for your outcome posting

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Hi - I have a question for you - when you found out your interim was granted, had any of your contacts received calls/letters in the mail by then to support your investigation? Or did that only happen after your interim was granted? Thank you so much.

Nobody had been contacted prior to my interim being granted - which was roughly just shy of a month after my SF-86 was submitted to my FSO.

As far as I can tell, none of my personal contacts (residence or references) were contacted either, even throughout the investigation run-time. Perhaps previous employers or the like, but nobody I know well at this phase of my life (they would have let me know).

Thanks for the reply. I was trying to figure out the timeline. My contacts received forms to verify my employment and it makes me wonder if that means that it was decided that an interim was denied and now the full investigation is ongoing.

I would expect it to be the norm that personal reference and employers are not contacted before an interim is granted. At times, they aren’t even contacted during the full investigation. Of course, there are pretty much exceptions to everything.

I see. So it looks like I’m going to have to wait until the full is completed. Thank you for the insight!

I would think your FSO would let you know if the interim is denied. When I got mine, I found out quickly as there was some additional paperwork to complete and the like…so I would assume (and as mentioned by EdFarmerIII, no two experiences are the same) you would have heard if your interim wasn’t granted.

Either way, a quick email or phone call should get you the answers you desire.

Thank you. Btw, I have an update. The investigator assigned to my case called me and set up an appointment. I wasn’t expecting any calls or interviews just yet. I hope this means that I’m close to getting my full or interim. I’ll share more updates after my appointment.

Here’s my timeline fwiw:
Sf submitted: early October
Sf returned for correction: early November
Sf resubmitted by me: early November
Verification forms received by spouse and one employer: last week
Scheduled appointment with investigator: Mid December