Why Isn't Reciprocity Standardized?

This is something I just don’t get, and a guy on my company blog (former FSO) wrote about it recently:

The byzantine structure of the government is understandable, but reciprocity itself just isn’t happen. I’ve dealt with this personally between a few agencies.

Of course different organizations have different standards, but should that be addressed? Imagine a world where a Secret was equally portable across agencies. It’d drastically improve interagency work and nix inefficiencies.

Different government agencies have different standards. While OPM does many of the investigations, the final decision is always made by the agency granting the clearance.

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They seem roughly alike to me so far. There have been a few anomalies as reported here where youthful experimentation with MJ in early 20’s, 2 years prior wasn’t good enough for one agency, but I know I have crossed folks over easily if the MJ use is more than 12 months old and is deemed age appropriate or age expected more accurately. I have heard similar stories about the Polygraph for Border Patrol being ridiculously hard to pass even after successful, multiple IC polys. I certainly understand the frustrations with that.

Wow that is interesting you say that. I had a difficult time passing the Border Patrol poly (I didn’t pass). I have questioned that poly for years wondering what I did wrong. This topic is also relevant to me, I am waiting on a DOS clearance after being recently granted a DOD clearance that took two years to complete. I’m baffled that DOS would not accept a two year investigation by DOD.

Best advice I can give is to dig deep into finances. See if credit karma shows unpaid bills, and get in a repayment plan. The two biggest things stopping clearances will be recreational drug use that is too current and financial difficulties making you vulnerable to either blackmail or bribes. If you have excellent credit now, how long has it been excellent? Is there a past habit of declaring bankruptcies? Past alcohol treatment issues? Multiple or really any number of arrests? Think whole person concept. Small dings in each area can add up to being judged “wanting.” I am only guessing but I would think what is slowing you down would be whatever info was left behind regarding your Poly. They are free to capture the results as they see fit with little chance you ever see it. So they can word denials quite harshly. It would paint you in a negative light. But, having achieved the recent clearance tells me, regardless what they wrote, you are now mitigating it with time. That is a good thing for you. If the State dept is a Secret clearance and credit is excellence I see no issues indicated, but you are the best judge there. If you can baby step it up for the clearances that too can grow your confidence. With my client we have two levels of TS. One requires Poly the other does not. It is the same background investigation every step of the way except for the added Poly on one. If I can get a guy cleared Secret and he had quite a few past issues, I always advise them to wait a year or 2 showing they mitigated the behavior. Then apply for the TS. That will still take another year. If they can achieve that they know they are deemed squeaky clean (that is my own clearance level; kind of made up, but you get the picture). I tell them to hold there for another year and then apply for the higher clearance with Poly. This gives another year of mitigation to show they moved beyond bad times. From there it is between them and the Poly. As long as they are honest and have been honest from the first SF86…all should be fine.

Hopefully I alleviated some of the introspection on the BC poly. It is a very high bar. Met several who “failed,” or failed to progress as some are told.

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That is some good information, I appreciate that. I understand what you are saying about maintaining a certain level before trying to get a higher clearance. I wondered if I would EVER be able to pass a poly after that experience. I think after maintaing some time at the current cleared level I would have better luck in the future with the poly. Finances were definitely the hold up for me. I had a lot of debt from unpaid bills during deployments, childbirth with no insurance after the Army, and a period of time of underemployment. I have made payments to all derogatory accounts, and I think that is why I eventually got the DOD clearance. I think I will have to explain the whole financial situation all over again for DOS.

Is there a difference in applying security clearance reciprocity to a federal employee vs a federal contractor for the same agency?

I have read about reciprocity from different federal agencies, but what about the same agency but different employment classification (employee vs contractor) hence the question.

I posted a bit in-depth on that in my earlier posting for your reading. Thanks.

Sore subject as of late. I spent a month trying to cross over a State department clearance recently. The folks answering their clearance crossover line were stubborn and not well informed in the process. First they told me their was a secure line and SCIF but difficult to get to. After the 5th frustrating attempt they started claiming they had no access to a SCIF or secure line. And they did not like me pointing out they previously claimed access. They simply did not want to help and then started giving me canned answers from Clearance 101 on how clearances work…I think it was meant to insult me and provoke a negative interaction. Didn’t work. I elevated to my client POC who I am quite sure did not think I was completely forthcoming. They too got the same nonsense through a few levels of supervision. I needed to go pretty high in their food chain to get a person to work with and respect reciprocity. But it required far more work and several shall I say highly placed people to break through. Reciprocity is supposed to cut through all this nonsense but agencies love their own stovepipe. One IC community hates the other, feels they are hopelessly compromised and will not share info and vice versa. Go outside the communities…and it is near impossible to cross over folks. I know for my client they participate in multiple repositories. They will respect a contractor clearance through them and move a person to a Fed position if it is in scope. I have had several go back and forth one side to the other. But that is this specific client. But State? That was a bear to accomplish.

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