Likelihood of being grant Clearance after SOR Response


I will try to make this short. Received Secret clearance vis Military in 2009. Omitted prior drug use on initial SF86 due to recommendation from Recruiter. Transferred to IRR in April 2016. Use drug at party in July 2016 and December 2016. Hired by Federal Contractor in April 2017, and submitted new SF86 in July 2017. Admitted to omissions on July 2017 SF86, including the drug uses in 2016. Received SOR in October 2019 only for drug uses in 2016.

Mitigation include the following:
ARCOM for 2013-2015
Exceed expectations performance reviews for 2013-2018
Merit increases, promotion and salary increase in 2017-2019
Conferred Bachelor Degree in 2017
Continue education via training 2017-2019
Active lifestyle, to include gym 4-5 times a week for thr last 18 months
Active in Church as youth minister
Married 11 years
No communication with friends who i used drug with since 2016
Statement of intent to not use drugs in the future
Almost 3 years since last used drugs (35months)

I hired a lawyer to assist with SOR submission. FYI - Never had access to classified materials while in the military, or was familiar with the responsibilities of a cleared individual. First job as a federal contractor occured after drug use. Unfortunately im, 39 years old. Didnt start growing up until my early 30s. ANd yes, I know i made mistakes for the drug uses in 2016.

I hired a lawyer for the SOR response. What is the likelihood of receiving a ‘Granted’ response from DOHA?

Thank you for the assistance.


I’m afraid the chances are not very good, but that’s not to say it is impossible. From what you’ve written, it looks like your life situation has changed quite a bit since last drug use, and that may be a point in your favor.

By the way, are you still employed with that same contractor since you got the SOR?

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I wouldn’t characterize your chances as not very good but again impossible for anyone to know. You can read through contractor adjudications and it can really go either way. The fact the SOR only discussed the 2016 use is improving your chances in my opinion. If they were going after you for the lying then I’d think less so. The age factor is a bit tough but really depends on the adjudicator.

I would like to thank you for your response Squirrel!

Yes, I’m currently employed with the same contractor that sponsored me for this clearance. I’ve taken some steps to protect my family and I just in case my clearance process goes south, such as studying for CISSP. This is my first rodeo as a federal contractor, and was looking towards a career in the defense industry. But it looks like I was mistaken and may have to look elsewhere.

Could you please explain why, in your opinion, I would be denied even with all the mitigating factors?

My lawyer also believes my case is extremely challenging to win.

Thank you for your response!


The only mitigation you have described here is infrequent use. You submitted the application 7 months after your last use which is the control date. Performance and awards have no bearing. You didn’t state the type of drug used, clearance level for the position, or the Agency, all of which are taken into consideration. Your age at the time and the fact you had a clearance before and for sure at some point were briefed that illegal drug use is bad are not in your favor. Research the Adjudicative Desk Reference to see what other mitigating factors you can apply (e.g., counseling). This could be decided either way.


Marko, good points, hard drugs are definitely going to be harder to overcome than marijuana. Won’t his performance and awards count towards his “whole person” concept though? As in they’re at least worth submitting. Also his signed letter of intent is another mitigating factor, although since he lied previously to get a job it’d be understandable if the adjudicator didn’t exactly buy it.

Performance and awards were prior to the drug use, regardless, character references are more important, as is rehabilitation.

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Ahh ok. So would the advice be to get reference letter from supervisors and coworkers?

Thanks for the response everyone.

It is hard drugs, for TS clearance, and for DoD. It may seem odd, but since I was in a Reserve unit, I do not recall ever receiving a Security brief. I was never informed I had a clearance, but I had an idea I did since I still had an MOS that required it. I was called up to Active Duty for 3 years, but was not involved with Classified information in any capacity.

I understand that age may be a factor, but Im really hoping DOHA understands not everyone ‘see the light’ at the same age. I started my life and career late.

I did receive great performance reviews before and after drug uses. I also included in my SOR response 5 character reference letters. Two are current TS clearance holders, the Pastor of my church, and a friend (prior military). There is also a reference letter from my wife, who’s aware of my drug use. I also submitted 2 drug test, in 2017 when i first got hired by my current employer, and 2019 when the BI reached out to me.

It’s amazing how a mistake I made roughly 10 years ago (drug omission due to recommendation from recruiter) and a drug use 3 years ago could possibly cost me my career and livelihood. I was really hoping 3 years is enough time for mitigation, but it sounds like I’m highly mistaken.

It sounds like the only thing
Thank you for your honest responses!


Hey, again, no one can say you’re definitely not getting it, only.your adjudicator makes that decision. Decisions have gone either way but yeah hard drugs is a rough one but if you look at recent decisions a guy who did coke 3 times 5 years ago with a clearance just got his renewed. That said there’s a decision earlier this year where a guy was totally honest, had 16 reference letters and smoked weed twice a few years ago and didn’t get his clearance. It really is impossible to know but always worth trying to state your case.

If they’re not stating the omissions in the SOR then that’s not why they’re denying it, only what’s specifically stated in the SOR is what they’re concerned about. Also some adjudicators take the date from use to when eQIP was submitted, others seem to decide based on use till when they decide. Choose to have a hearing in person, statistically that is a better choice.

I feel for you and know you didn’t do this to yourself on purpose.

You should get evaluated by a drug expert so they can determine your likelihood to reuse. Also do your research on the drug you abused and if the effects of that have an impact on your decision to stop using you should write something up about that. I would also volunteer to random drug testing that if you test positive results in a revocation of your clearance.

Thanks for the response Mdfgj!

You’re absolutely right. All I can do now is try my best to mitigate the concern. And place myself in the best position if I’m denied.

The most difficult part has been the wait. I’ll be glad once this process is done and over with.

Thanks again!


It is much more than use of drugs. Technically, MDFGJ is correct that only what is listed in the SOR is considered. The cleared world is well aware of recruiters giving that terrible advice. But you are now on record as omitting prior drug use…I assume you are saying you ommitted this info when you first joined. Well, that likely was the SF86 not a recruiting form. So claiming you did not ever receive a security briefing or know better won’t get you very far IMHO. Though the SOR did not directly speak to falsifying the initial SF86, and that use is far behind you, I think it will color their opinion. Falsifying the SF86, deception etc makes for a steeper hill. Hard drugs complicates it. I agree no longer hanging out with the drug crowd helps, but all the other stuff preceding it is meaningless. Age at time you decided to use is going to be hard to overcome. Length of time since last use is another issue and I recommend waiting a minimum of 12 months since last use, possibly even 3. In your favor is the company keeping you on. They want to retain you. That is enormously positive. So hang in there. You will need speak to the denial on future SF86’s as well.

I just wanted to say ‘Thank You’ to all who replied. I received a positive decision yesterday from the DOHA judge. It took well over 3 years (due to my mistake), but it was well worth the time, effort, and cost. I’ll take it as a learning experience and hope others can learn from it as well!


Outstanding! Thanks for posting how it turned out! Glad it was positive.

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