SF86 descrimination?


Can a government organization, i.e. NAVSEA, NAVAIR, us the SF86 as a prescreening tool for determining employment eligibility? If not, what are my options if I feel I have enough documentation to suggest, with minimal doubt, that the SF86 was used for prescreening instead of being used to attain/reactivate a security clearance?

I have had a clearance for 23 of the last 26 years. Secret since late 90’s and TS/SCI prior to that. Clean record and credit score over 800(as of this writing) but unemployed, recently divorced with about $5,000 in debt (no missed bills). My last SF86 was in 2010 but clearance has been inactive since mid 2014. Still in JPAS under the ownership of DOD contractor that I worked for since the mid 90’s.

I recently received a written tentative offer for a high visibility civil service position of national importance for which I am uniquely qualified. I am prior military but never civil service. This job was not listed on USAJOBS, though, in the paper work provided, the position was marked as “Competitive Service”. I was given a USAJOBS Onboarding account and completed all assigned paperwork, the last being an updated SF86. Keep in mind up to this point I have been speaking with the Division head on a weekly basis, for many months, and they were pushing the process as fast as they could, even received a verbal tentative start date.

At first I questioned the updated SF86 request indicating that my clearance was inactive in JPAS but I completed, via e-QIP, anyway so as not to cause a delay. Once my paperwork was completed (about 1 day) things fell silent. 1 week after completing the paperwork I emailed HR asking if they were able to meet the tentative start date, 15 days away. They replied that my paperwork has not been completed/certified. Several days later I received an email from HR, without explanation, indicating that management had rescinded the tentative offer. I sent an email to the Division head asking if we could discuss and address managements concerns. I was told managements decision was final. I sent an email to the Division head and HR asking if the information used to make a decision would affect my clearance or other government employment opportunities. They never replied. I have asked several contacts what happened and have been told, “No one is talking”. It may take several months to find a replacement and the learning curve is significant.

On my SF86 I included detailed information about the following : While my Secret clearance was inactive I smoked pot for 3 months, almost 2 years prior, due to nerve pain caused by lower back issues while waiting for my doctor to figure out what was wrong with me. I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, given medication to address the nerve pain and ceased smoking pot.

I have two thoughts; 1st, due to the significance and visibility of the position they decided the information in the SF86 could be looked down upon if said information became public, or, they were concerned my medical condition would affect my job performance. The job has some physical requirements as well as being constantly in motion.

From what I have read, the pot smoking should not affect my ability to reactivate my clearance. I have not heard from any of my references that, “hey, someone from the government called asking about you”, nor has any one done a soft inquiry on my credit.



It sounds fishy the way they tried to fill the position, totally not with regulatory hiring processes for competitive service positions since they did not even advertise the position. Perhaps the HRO convinced the hiring manager of this, or perhaps as you said, they pre-screened the application, which they are allowed to do even for national security positions. See this post: Arrest and Public Trust (moderate risk) clearance


@marko.hakamaa Thank you for your reply. I, nor my contacts, had considered your initial comment. Being so infuriated and with the concern of pot use, I immediately made a negative assumption. Being back in the job market, I will continue to watch postings on USAJOBS and at the organizational level and will receive back-channel word when the position is filled. It will be interesting to watch. Being a competitive service position, I believe I am due a reason but have not pursued yet for fear of burning bridges elsewhere. Very tight community.

In your opinion, do you feel the limited pot use might affect my clearance or other government employment opportunities?


I think it will be a major issue. Period. Use of MJ as youthful indiscretion is one thing. Possessing a clearance or maintaining eligibility as an adult…and making the willful decision to use MJ…medicinal or not…indicates willingness to not follow rules. I had a few revocations of Secret clearance and denial of upgrade to TS for failed Polygraph regarding drug use as a cleared member. Can you honestly say you did not know it was prohibited? Can you honestly say you were unaware of the law? I think you have an uphill battle. I have argued with our HR repeatedly about getting too cozy with an applicant,playing footsie if you will for a tentative offer without knowing what the SF86 reveals. When I get it…I say non recommend. This greatly upsets the apple-cart. That HR person is no longer HR. For a reason. So as a Security Manager I get to say yes or no on a submission. In a sense I am making a hire decision. I base this on the probability of getting them cleared.

Sounds like this may have happened to you.


@amberbunny Playing footsie with the applicant. That resonates! Great footsie until my feet started to smell of ganja :slight_smile:

Thank you for your answer even though I find it disheartening. Not because I currently disagree with you but because 4 years ago I would have held the same opinion, “indicates willingness to not follow rules”. Don’t the guidelines you follow “suggest” adjudicating the person as a whole and that the MJ use I indicated would be considered minimal? The other reason I find your answer disheartening is that an SO I know personally indicated that it would not be a problem which suggests opinions/perspectives/application of guidelines varies just as bad as my dart game. Looks like I will be playing darts with the job market.

To answer your rhetorical questions, absolutely, 100%, I knew what I was doing, the potential consequences and I didn’t care. The only thing I cared about was relieving the pain. It is what it is.


I hear you. And yes the decision rendering is exceptionally mercurial and variable even with firm guidelines. Now, a prime mitigating factor to use could very well be “a period of increased stress, unlikely to repeat itself.” That is a mitigating factor. If you can make the case of not tolerating other pain meds or liver damage from opioids . . .you may get a shot. Just not with that company. My advice in anyone with the similar situation…is to submit a mitigation letter witht he SF86 citing the limited period of stress and how the pain affected your decision making. You weren’t thinking clearly and were solely focused on stopping intense pain. Once under control, thinking rationally it dawned on you how it was a very bad decision with lifetime. A solid argument can be made in your favor. However you need an HR and Security Manager working hand in hand to submit. I have made clear on other blog posts the difficulty I had with a bad HR person. She won the arguments with the PM. That meant I lost. The rejection rate was high and the upgrade rate was low. No matter how much I pushed to fully control the process I couldn’t get there. Fast forward to now and this less than stellar person is no longer in that capacity (and for good reason). I have yet to have a rejection or failure to upgrade. At times companies get the horse before the cart and allow non security folks to make what is clearly a security decision. But once they stop taking your calls…I am sorry to say it is done with them. Is it fair? Not by any means. But continue to pursue those “like” jobs. And do include the mitigating letter when you submit.


@amberbunny once again, thank you for your reply. Wish I had known about this website earlier. I am not one to make excuses so I only put the facts down. Next time, I will include my “sob story”.

I hope that others will benefit from my experience and your comments.