Lied about drug use on SF-86-Am I completely screwed

I have submitted three SF-86s for various jobs. On the first two SF-86s (August and October 2017) I minimized past drug use (I omitted 6 times of using marijuana/hashish and misuse of Ambien). On the third one (November 2017) I admitted all of my drug use. In addition, I listed being let go for a temp job in 2008 because I asked two days off of work, which I honestly forgot about. For the third SF-86, I knew that I would have to take a polygraph which prompted me to be completely honest about my past drug use. I intend to be completely honest about my falsifications on my past SF-86s in my Personnel Subject Interview, though I am really scared about it.

My question is this this: Do I have a chance of being approved? I have read that sometimes falsification can be mitigated if a good-faith, prompt effort is made to correct past falsifications. Would this apply though since I only made the corrections after the prospect of facing a polygraph? I’m so ashamed of my falsifications that it is honestly causing me to lose a lot of sleep. I am thinking now that I need to seriously start looking for other career options (my particular skill set doesn’t have a lot of other career prospects outside of government jobs that require security clearances). I have also considered asking the contractor/agency sponsoring my security clearance application to discontinue my application/investigation since I may have no chance of being approved. I don’t want to waste everyone’s time/money if have no chance of being approved.

I greatly appreciate any advice.

When you say you filled out two prior SF-86 applications for jobs, that indicates they have not hired you but rather were using them as prescreening tools and have not initiated actual background investigations. If that is the case then most likely they will not see the light of day (only exception is FBI jobs where they provide application information for background investigations).

This discrepancy would not in and of itself prevent you form getting cleared as long as you are honest about it during the security interview. As far as the poly, that would be up to the requesting agency.

Dear Marko,

Thank you for your reply. I apologize for the late reply. The first SF-86 was for a TSA job for which I am still in the process of being considered though I have not advanced to the next stage of the application. The second SF-86 was not for the FBI itself but one that the FBI does the background investigation for. It was not a cleared job but I did have to fill out an sf-86 and pass a background check. I passed the background check and was “cleared” to begin work (it was contract work on an as needed basic and I never received any assignments) and they said that I may have had to be interviewed by an FBI agent in the future.I have since withdrawn my name for consideration for this job.

Would the sf-86 for the second job still be in the system? Also, would I be prosecuted for admitting my falsification in my PSI? I have read that falsification is rarely results in prosecution unless it involves serious criminal conduct. I have also read DOHA cases online where applicants who admitted falsification for things like drug use were sometimes cleared. It seems odd that some would be granted a clearance but others get prosecuted. But I am worried about taking that risk.

Thank you

If all you did was falsify drug use, you will likely not face criminal charges. You are correct in noting that people have falsified SF-86’s and have still been favorably ajudicated.

Bit of advice: Lying requires commitment, keep that in mind next time you decide to do it on a government form. Also, if you get an SOR, retain counsel, your odds of getting cleared increase by about 20%.

Oh, and if you want to figure out which sf-86’s are on record with OPM complete and submit an FOIA.

What ever happened with this?

I withdrew from the process and found a non-cleared job for the moment. I don’t know what I’m going to do next since for my given skill set it’s hard to make a living without a clearance of some sort.

I submitted an FOIA request and it only showed that the requesting agency of the most recent application still has it and is pending review and that the OPM doesn’t have access to it. However, I’m pretty sure they will come up in a future background investigation. For both of the first two jobs I had to fill out SF-86s even though they weren’t for Secret or Top Secret clearances. Looking at past emails it looks like I passed some sort of preliminary criminal background investigation.

From what I read I face an almost certain denial and an uphill battle appealing it. I’m not sure if all of that, not to mention the unlikely but possible legal consequences, is worth it. In my chosen field I almost certainly will have to take a CI polygraph (at least) and will have to admit my previous falsification if I want to have a long-term career in this field. So I’ll have to disclose it if I want to go through the clearance process and take the risk.

I’m furious at my self for my dishonesty and wish I knew what I know now before I applied for those jobs and jeopardized my career and freedom. In the clearance world it looks like you can get second chances sometimes in lots of things but not lying. I was a fool and didn’t really think it through. I realize now how grave of a mistake it was and I have to live with it.

In the long run, your admission and your clear remorse will work in your favor. Time heals most wounds and you should have a chance of clearing in the future.

One thing that you need to do is get over your fear of facing criminal charges. This is very likely to foul up a polygraph and simply isn’t worth worrying about, as you have been told.

If I were in your position, I would consult with a clearance attorney just to run your case past them and get some advice even though you are not trying to get a clearance right now. Even a free one hour consult may give you peace of mind and ideas for moving forward.


@EdFarmerIII Thank you for your advice. I plan on consulting with an attorney before applying for other cleated jobs. I realize that it is largely my own temperament that increases my anxiety (not asking for any sympathy or excusing my actions but I have depression and anxiety) but even the slightest theoretical possibility of prosecution makes me nervous.

Does anyone know if disclosing my full drug use on my third sf-86 (about a month after my second falsification) would qualify as a “prompt” attempt to correct the previous falsification? And would I have the chance to do that in a meeting with a background investigator and before a polygraph? Also, would it be better to let a significant amount of time pass before applying again or does that really make a difference? How much time?

Thanks again.

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I have a feeling that they don’t attempt to tie all three together. It’s probably a parallel and monolithic process. Each one has to stand on its own.

LI agree with @EdFarmerIII, you need to get over it. Security clearance process is not intended to weed out folks who make innocent mistakes nor is it intended only for boy scouts. Seek a security clearance attorney to gauge ur chance…

Not everyone is a Jared Kushner, so there might not be an opportunity to rectify previously submitted SF-86’s. Nonetheless, you will be given an opportunity to explain the discreperancy during the background investigation interview with an investigator.

Will you meet with investigator prior to polygraph? That’s up to the agency. Should you wait before try again? Time does heal wounds, but wounds still there. Point being that, the falsified records are still there. One way or other, you’ll need to explain it anyway. Good luck.

Consult with an attorney NOW! Find out what you may be able to do to mitigate this issue when you apply down the road. Get a head start on the process don’t wait until you need a job.


It applies to both . . . The paperwork that you receive with your SOR or LOI will explain your rights and next steps. They do not just send a letter that says, “Denied.”