TS Clearance Decay Time


It pains me to discuss this but I consider leaving federal. I have a current TS that was granted in 5/1/2020. Some new offers came about that are exceedingly difficult to pass on. One of which is at a small tech company non-DoD related that doesnt use clearances and so my TS will effectively “decay”. For reference I am a full time federal civillian employee. I’d consider myself early in my career. I need to plan accordingly in the event there are some software roles at these tech companies require clearances that pop up in the future

I saw several discussions over the years in this forum but I cannot find the appropriate keywords to locate them. So my questions to both professionals and investigators are as follows:

When I leave for a job that does not use TS nor Secret what happens? Does TS go away after X years and Y months? Will it then expire completely or downgrade to Secret and then the Secret will go away after X years and Y months? I hear the terms Active, Current and Expired. I believe with these terms one would say my clearance is Active. When I leave and it goes into this decay timeframe it becomes Current. Once it goes out of scope within 2-5 years (or whatever the timeline may be) it will become Expired at which I will start over from scratch. Is my understanding correct?

Thanks As Always.

My understanding is that the moment you leave a job that requires a clearance, your clearance status will change from “Active” to “Current”.

A non-active clearance will remain “Current” for 2 years or until your previous investigation goes out of scope, whichever comes first.

Example 1: Let’s say you have a Secret clearance and your last investigation/re-investigation was adjudicated 4 years ago. That means your clearance wouldn’t be due to “expire” for another 6 years (Secret clearances are good for 10 years) assuming it remains active. If you then leave the job and no longer require it, then it would remain “Current” for 2 years, since the 2 year mark would occur before it would have been set to go out of scope.

Example 2: Let’s take the exact same scenario as above but say your clearance was Top Secret instead of Secret. In that case upon leaving the job and no longer needing the clearance, it would remain current for only 1 year because the out of scope mark (TS clearances are good for only 5 years) would occur before the 2 year mark.

Please note however that this is based on the periodic re-investigation scheme. Things may change now that they are transitioning people to Continuous Evaluation (CE).

This is great. I understand their clearance processes are always changing more so than now and for good reason. I personally felt the implications of the DOD hacks in 2015? resulting in years of backlogged investigations. For more reference of discussion here is my timeline:

Secret Timeline:
06-2016 - Submit SF86 for Internship (this never completed)
06-2017 - Full Time Federal Job had to restart and submit new SF86
12-2018 - Granted

Top Secret Timeline
11-2019 - Submit another SF86 adding any updates/changes since Secret
05-2020 - Granted

So with that said then:

  • Status immediately changes from Active TS to Current TS eligibility for another 2 years (until 05-2022)
  • Will remain Current TS status until 05-2021 at which it will go Inactive. Any applications in defense is essential a complete restart.

This is because my TS was adjudicated in 05-2020. Leaving for a non-cleared job makes it Current for 2 years. So as a backup plan I am TS eligible for another 2 years?

PS. Sorry for all the questions.

Another Note: I am referencing this Q&A (https://www.clearancejobs.com/security-clearance-faqs#general-14) but honestly I’m not too familiar with some of the terminology being used. Is “break-in-service” that 2 year time frame you are referring to?

Never heard this “decay” term used before but your best shot at reactivating the clearance will be within two years of the time that you leave cleared employment.

Even then there may be some issues but keep that two-year timeline in mind.

Decay was the most natural description that came to mind. :sweat_smile:

So would you say 2 years for either Secret and TS?

Yes, two years seem to be the timeline.

Keep in mind, you may still encounter some problems if you try to get cleared with a different customer but within that two-year timeframe employers should be more willing to make an offer.

Anyway good luck with the new job!

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So as a backup plan I am TS eligible for another 2 years?

As I understand it, yes.