New hire looking for some insight on Public Trust

Hello all,

I accepted a job offer back in October for a consulting firm located in the DC area. I was just informed that I will have to complete the SF85P form for my first client, which is a division of the IRS (medium risk). I am a campus hire and have been looking over the public trust forms and discovered that there is a section for drug use.

I have 4 instances of drug use in the past year, I know the exact dates. Each were within a month of each other (marijuana 2x and adderall 2x).

I cannot mitigate through time but I will be separating myself from my college situation and believe my use was very infrequent. As soon as I got offer I stopped using drugs completely. My start date is sometime in September.

Can anyone give me any insight into how decisions are made? Just feeling completely overwhelmed and guilty about the situation.


Oh, that is so bad, my client is Treasury and drug use, recent or not is seriously frowned upon. You should report this to your supervisor and be completely transparent. It may turn out okay, but I would see if you can stay in your current job and do work that do not require a public trust and certainly do not require a clearance. When you fill out the SF85p you will need to list each date for each occurrence. Aside from this, do you have any other issues?

No, absolutely no other problems. No credit or debt issues and no arrests, charges, etc.

Substance use will be about 8-9 months when I completed SF85P. My references know about the uses but also know that I have stopped and as previously mentioned, I have distanced myself from the situation and never purchased the substances in question. If they really do look at the “whole person” I believe I can explain the uses and how they cannot be used against me (blackmail). Marijuana use was literally one hit each time and adderall use was twice within the same month (stupid, I know).

I have gotten so many conflicting answers…you say “it’s so bad” while others say it’s not a problem if I am honest. Another colleague of mine was an investigator and said it is not an issue. So what is it? Can anyone help me out? Again, I am not working directly with the organization, just consult with them.

A public trust is a lower level investigation than an actual clearance and the standards are easier to meet. The problem is the recency makes this one a tougher call.

It’s really not that anyone thinks that you can be blackmailed over some minor drug issues. These incidents show poor judgment on your part. This is the issue that you have to mitigate.

Thanks for the response Ed. I am new to the investigation/federal world so I have learned a lot from your posts. The good thing about my position is that if I am not granted PT, I get bumped to another project but I really liked the project I got staffed on. (new college grad)

I will try my best to mitigate and explain the circumstances.

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A family member of mine has worked for the IRS for 33 years, you will not pass a PT with the IRS in your circumstances. The clock starts when you apply for the public trust, not after the investigation. If you have used drugs within the last 5 years and want to support the IRS, this will not happen.

So I have a question then, as when I was in college I tried cocaine once/marijuana infrequently/and was a middle man for providing some friends with weed (that stopped in Jan of 17). I applied for a job with the OCC (part of the Dept of Treasury) and have filled out the SF85P and Supp. I know in another post you said there would be NO way that I’d be hired but I got notice the other day that I had been granted access to systems and facilities and my start day is still as stated in offer letter.

What do you think happens to me?

It depends, did you report these activities on your SF85P and Supplemental? You were selling weed as of 2 years ago, and you have been granted access?

I reported everything on my SF85-P and supplemental and received my access granted from pass and have been issued my relocation package and my reservations for flight and hotel for orientation… I’m thinking I’ll be let go after my investigation completed… but am curious as to why they’d let me start and work for what I’m sure will be quiet a few months and then fire me? Isn’t it easier to just never let me start?

If your investigation has not been completed and you have access then you just have an interim. I would ask the FSO or HR about your concerns. Even if I had no dirt, I would never move to any job and relocate without a completed investigation.

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Yeah, I’m in a place where I can take the leap… this is what I really want to do so just praying that it all works out. I just don’t really understand, because I actually emailed the security office and told them before I even submitted my SF, like almost a month before they sent me my forms. I never got a response.

I also have read that interims aren’t granted if there’s anything like what is on my forms as well… so I was surprised at how everything has come together.

Because, if I work there for two or three months with access to exactly what I would have access to later what’s the point of even letting me start?

Ukwildfan, please let me know what happens

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I will brother. I talked to another one of the guys that got hired on with me and he said OPM probably wouldn’t get to our investigations for a few months so I’ll keep you updated.

My current employer received an employment verification request yesterday, so I think they may be moving much quicker than I thought.

You’re right. You cannot mitigate through time, but you can mitigate through your change of behavior and future intent. You will most likely meet with an investigator to provide details of the drug use. At this time, you can provide those mitigating factors, and this will be part of the report for the adjudicator to make a decision based on the whole person concept. I do not think there are any specific rules with any specific agencies(exception DEA) that completely rule someone out. Example, IRS employees with financial issues are not a rarity. They are just people too.

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Just an update for you. My investigation was relayed to OPM and I had several phone conversations with an investigator. I checked in with my agency security office today and they said OPM closed my investigation and I am now in adjudication.


Hey Ukwildfan. Thanks for responding. I just received my interim clearance the other day. What is adjudication then? I am not familiar with the clearance process.

So adjudication is where your sponsoring agency looks over the investigation completed by OPM. I’ve been working since June 10th, got sworn in in Washington and everything. Could still be found unsuitable

What clearance are they adjudicating for you? Did you have any issues to mitigate?