Processing Ending without SOR or Clearance Approval?

Hi, folks.

I have seen some articles that point to a rare possibility when it comes to the outcomes of SSBIs (other than successful adjudication or an SOR). Presumably, some three letter agencies have the option of discontinuing their processing at any time based on their own suitability guidelines, which may be somewhat more demanding than the good old 13 “commandments” being used elsewhere. Does that mean that, in theory, some individuals may not necessarily have their clearances denied per se, but still would not be getting an FJO ?

I am just trying to understand if there are in fact cases where after 6+ months an applicant just sort of gets dropped out consideration and essentially walks away?

Let’s imagine a more concrete example. Suppose an applicant goes through an extensive processing, security interview, psych, poly, the whole shebang, and although they’re being upfront and highly cooperative, they fail poly nonetheless. Not so much due to a bona fide lie/concealment, but more so due to the gray area that exists thanks to some ambiguity when it comes to legality status of marijuana purchased from recreational dispensaries (state vs fed laws, yada-yada). The applicant was somewhat swayed by the examiner to do some real deep soul searching on the spot to even figure out where such inconsistency may be hidden (being susceptible to sweet talk perhaps a clandestine suitability guideline in itself? hmmm…)

Eventually the applicant is told that most likely they will be asked to retake poly, but being that it is Friday there are no options to schedule it for next day and so someone will reach out to schedule a repeat in 1-4 weeks.

Several months go by and no retake has been scheduled. Eventually the applicant is starting to think that because of how seemingly minor those inconsistencies were, they will be adjudicated anyway, because the applicant is no knucklehead and their overall profile was actually quite good - no debt, credit score well over 800, no criminal history, no DUIs or mental issues, consistent employment record for over a decade without any security incidents, but above all, a fantastic, highly sought after skillset.

Finally an email arrives stating that the processing has been discontinued. The tone of the email is deliberately cryptic and vague, but in the end the applicant may reapply in one year if they are so inclined. All of this sounds much like a clearance denial… Or is it? Is there a good chance that an SOR letter will eventually show up at some point in the mail? Just wondering if anyone had been in similar situation and how everything turned out in the end.

I think this falls under the “suitability” category which offers far fewer avenues for appeal (or even notification) than denial of a security clearance.

The scenario you describe sounds like a polygrapher getting the subject to admit to something they did not put down on the SF-86 and they is usually not viewed favorably. “Real deep soul searching” is not a good behavior to engage in during the polygraph.

Agreed. Some agencies question a whole lot more areas as part of psych evaluation than what goes into SF86, therefore a lot of highly personal things could be brought in the open. Many inquiries deal with “have you EVER…” type of clauses. So I could understand how at least for some folks being 100% honest on psych test could be detrimental to suitability without necessarily affecting their clearance, which essentially deals with SF86 for the most part. One the other hand, withholding some of that super personal information will fall under falsifying the agency’s forms (again, a necessary distinction from SF86 here) and could be caught with one simple polygraph question.

With all that being said, what happens one year later if one decides to re-apply after suitability? Is the whole SSBI process repeated from the top, or is that more of a “lets pick it up where left off” sort of thing?

I guess it depends on what state the previous investigation was in and how much has changed in the applicant’s situation. If the previous investigation was complete and the applicant is still working at the same place, living in the same place, etc. they should be able to pick up the previous investigation. The operative word being “should.”

I know a guy who was in a similar situation but in his case it was a hiring freeze that stopped his ‘candidacy.’ I think he had to redo the polygraph.

Thank you, Sbusquirrel.

When someone gets cleared, what does that mean? Is clearance like a physical license, or a certificate? Or is the person’s name just added to some database? I totally get the concept, but it is still kind of elusive in technical terms.

Conversely, once the person is denied on suitability, what should they say on further questionnaires when applying elsewhere? Been investigated, but no clearance? Questions such as “Ever denied clearance?” should be answered as a “no”, presumably? Quite confusing…

Once your investigation is favorably adjudicated, that gets recorded in one of several databases. The biggest one (I think) is DISS formerly JPAS used by Dept of Defense. Other agencies like DHS, State, Justice etc probably have their own and may or may not have access to DISS. Your employer can see your eligibility in the database and then grant you access to classified info as appropriate.

As far as a suitability denial, no, that is not being denied a clearance or losing a clearance. But they may ask if you have been investigated… been a while since I filled out the forms.

The other thing to remember is that these IC agencies are often processing MULTIPLE candidates for each open position. So it is definitely within the realm of possibility that in that 1 to 4 week period someone else cleared BI/Poly/Psych and was given a FJO. Therefore anyone else processing for that role had their processing stopped.

I also tend to believe, if it is the agency that I think it is, if you DECLINE an offered date for a poly follow-up (i.e. your offered to come back the next day and say “no i can’t, can I reschedule” they just think it is too much hassle and discontinue you.

Hi, Squirrel.

Did some research and pulled up the exact SF86 wording on prior investigations: “Has the U.S. Government (or a foreign government) EVER investigated your background and/or granted you
a security clearance eligibility/access?”

So it sounds like the answer to this should be “Y”. Investigation took place but no clearance given should fall under the “or” clause? The confusing part is that the form then proceeds asking questions as though the clearance was in fact given. There are some options to answer with “I don’t know” to some of those follow up questions, so perhaps that would be the way to go, as something that would need clarification later…

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I would answer yes to that question and then explain in the notes that your processing was stopped.

If you never had a Security Interview, I would say that there was a chance your investigation was never started (poly/psych are suitability not security), but still safer to answer yes with a note, than no.

This actually happens all the time, a candidate’s processing is discontinued due to suitability instead of a full security disapproval following adjudication. From the gov perspective, denying a candidate based on suitability is frankly very convenient; they do not have to provide any due process to the candidate, and the candidate will not have a denial record in SC.