Public Trust Waiver Process

I had a Secret level clearance during 13 years as a GS14, when arrested on 5 felonies, with the charges in 2011 and the convictions in early 2012. I served 4yrs 4months, and am nearing my 3yr probation anniversary, with 2yr to go. Serriously under-employed as a paralegal and seeking a better-fit public trust level federal job in my original environmental field. I now have two offers from two agencies at GS12 and GS14 and wonder about the OPM waiver process for Public Trust clearances.

I’m told by a retired long-time fed that there will be at least one initial interview meant to get an interim waiver and start my employment and then a nearly one-year background investigation. I think I will interview well, and can cite numerous positives and offer supportive references to people (probation officer, therapist, wife).

How likely is it that I will get the waiver while the longer process moves forward, and can anyone offer insight into how the process works?

It all depends on what the felonies were and what you have done with your life after your incarceration. 5 felonies will be hard to mitigate.

I understand, but they were all the same thing (inappropriate images) at the same time, not like I went out five times and made mistakes each time. Still, I hear you. Anybody else had this type of issue?

I would be extremely surprised if you can get a Public Trust while on probation. “Inappropriate images” can cover a lot of ground and it look, to me, like you were sentenced to 10 years, no minor issue.

I understand. I was sentenced to ten years for each offense with five suspended on each, and all five were run concurrently. I did 4 years and 4 months with a spotless record. Have been employed as a paralegal since the day I was released. I have good credit, pay child support to my college age son’s mother, have no probation violations, graduated frrom 2 years of court ordered therapy with very positive reviews. I am active in a church (where they are aware) and in several 12-Step programs. Still, I am not deluding myself.

I’ve heard that using a criminal record as a reason for refusing to hire to a federal position under regs passed during Obama’s tenure requires some kind of written justification as to why the crime (e.g., embezzlement) is relevant to a decision on a job (e.g., financial manager). Still, if the clearance isn’t there the hiring manager has an easy out without needing to make that justification.

The private sector is even more fraught with unwillingness to offer a second chance. Cie la vie.

I think that you ARE deluding yourself . . . You were found guilty of FIVE felonies, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume this was kiddie porn, WHILE YOU HAD A SECRET CLEARANCE. You are still on probation! Your last sentence makes sound like you think that you not being given a second chance . . . You’re out of jail, you’re working as a paralegal, you have a support system around you. This IS your second chance.

Forgiveness is one thing and you should be forgiven. People make mistakes. Forgetting is another.

I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but this is a big deal. I doubt that the five times you were caught for were the first five or the only five. You have done a lot of work but that doesn’t mean that everything is going to be like it was before you were arrested.


I think you might be referring to “Ban the Box” rule, which was finalized under previous Administration. The current Administration could easily wipe that out, but you will need to check it out. Basically, the rule was that federal agencies could not use criminal record (prior conviction and such) in as a reason prior to a job offer without a justification and approval from OPM.

In your particular case, you have a criminal record (conviction) that is current because you are serving your sentence (conviction). The Court hasn’t thoroughly concluded your case. So, the rule does not, in my opinion, apply to in this case.

As for waiver of public trust designation, i think two things need to be clear. 1) Public trust is not a clearance and 2) public trust is a designation that is assigned to a position. With that said, unless the position has been waived of the public trust designation, you cannot circumvent that as it is set in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Can you be granted interim while the process plays out? It depends on the position, need and agency. Agencies have some latitude with that. Without knowing the agencies, it is hard to give you a better opinion.