Commentary

April 18, 2013

Is your security clearance current?

Commentary by Keenan Williams
355th Fighter Wing Information Protection

To support the Air Force’s global mission, you must commit to maintaining your personnel readiness.

So, your immunizations are current, you have a solid family care plan in place and your finances are squared away, but are you really prepared to deploy and support the global mission? Have you forgotten anything? What about your security clearance? Is it current?

Just as immunizations, family care plans and personal finances are crucial to your personnel readiness, you cannot neglect your security clearance.

Your unit security manager is appointed to manage your unit’s security program, but did you know that obtaining and maintaining your security clearance has always been your personal responsibility?

There are a few things you need to be aware of: when your last personnel security investigation was completed, what level of security clearance you’ve been granted and when your next periodic reinvestigation is due.

Be mindful that your USM may not submit your PR request until you are within 60 days of the anniversary your last investigation was completed, which is five years for top secret and 10 years for secret clearances. Your USM also may not submit a PR request for you if you have less than one year retainability.

A common misconception is that security clearances automatically expire after five and 10 years.

According to Department of Defense directive 5200.2-R, Personnel Security Program, “A clearance or access entry in the [Defense Clearance and Investigations Index] shall not be suspended or downgraded based solely on the fact that a periodic reinvestigation was not conducted precisely within the 5-year time period for TOP SECRET/[SENSITIVE COMPARTMENTED INFORMATION] or within the period prevailing for SECRET clearances under departmental policy. While every effort should be made to ensure that PRs are conducted within the prescribed timeframe, agencies must be flexible in their administration of this aspect of the personnel security program so as not to undermine the ability of the Department of Defense to accomplish its mission.”

Unless there has been a 24-month or greater break in federal service, including federal contracted employment, your security clearance is not considered expired after the respective anniversaries.

If there has been no cause to suspend access to classified information you should be allowed to continue performing daily duties that require access to classified information uninterrupted; however, you must submit a PR at the soonest possible opportunity.

For example, you deploy downrange with a current security clearance and during the deployment you pass your 60-day window to submit your PR. With your focus on the mission, it is not feasible for you to attempt to submit a PR; you may not even have all of the required information in your possession to complete the security questionnaire. Nor should the concern of your security clearance distract you from accomplishing the mission.

In this case your PSI falls slightly out-of-scope and timely submission of your PR would be upon completion of your deployment. However, it is your responsibility to contact your USM upon return to home station or your next duty station.

Unfortunately, out-of-scope PSIs can be a major inhibitor for deployments, PCS assignments and TDYs. Personnel who fail to complete PRs in a timely manner and deploy may be denied access to classified information, including sensitive compartmented information, and returned to home station. PCS orders may be delayed or cancelled, and personnel who are TDY for training may be denied access to the course and materials and also returned to home station.

In these examples, the common factor is failing to take responsibility for personnel readiness.

So, what can you do to maintain a current security clearance and personnel readiness?

Contact your USM and determine when your last PSI was completed and keep track of when your next PR is due. A couple of weeks prior to your 60-day window contact your USM to assist you through the process. Take control of your personnel readiness and be prepared to submit your PR when the time comes.




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