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I am in the early years of my career and I am currently working in a government contractor company (in the United States). I recently got my security clearance.

I'm trying to move to another govt contractor company for another career opportunity. But the prospective employer is asking me to provide them a list of which government clients I've worked for in the past (including the current employer), so that they could cross-check if I'm legally okay to work with them.

(There is a non-solicitation and confidentiality agreement that I've signed with my current company)

They also asked me to double check the list with my current manager to make sure I get the correct list of clients. (which makes it feel sketchy, and makes me feel I'm going behind my current employer's back)

Is this type of process normal/typical thing to do when moving from a govt contractor company to another? If not, what should I do?

And in terms of providing them a list, if I knew what client/project that I was supporting for even when I was uncleared, does that mean that my client/project is not cleared/confidential?

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    Maybe they are testing you.. ;) – iLuvLogix Nov 12 '20 at 11:13
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    You can try flipping it on them -- ask them who all of the companies are that they have non-competes with, and you'll tell them if there's a problem or not. – Joe Nov 12 '20 at 17:34
  • Are you sure the new "employer" is legit? – shoover Nov 13 '20 at 0:48
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    I personally think the answerers are potentially reading more into this than need be. Unless specifically disallowed by current company's employee handbook, the general clients could be specified without harm (abc agency, def agency, dhs, fbi, etc.). The specific organizations within those agencies and departments, perhaps not, but even then, it's not necessarily forbidden to discuss. (for example only: OP could possibly say they supported the CIO's office of the ABC Agency.) – CGCampbell Nov 13 '20 at 12:09
  • @shoover that is exactly what my colleague was questioning about when he heard it...but it is a legit company though – hihello Nov 14 '20 at 1:26
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This seems sketchy, because it is sketchy.

From a business perspective:

  • You recognize that you have agreed to a non-disclosure agreement.
  • Your current employer's client list is proprietary information, and there is no legitimate reason a prospective employer needs access to it. "Cross-checking to verify if you are legal to work with them" is not a thing.

From a security clearance perspective:

  • Fishing for information about current classified or sensitive clients is not good. Depending on how specific or pushy they are, this may need to be reported to your security office.
  • If this new employer already has cleared people working for them they understand the rules, but it's possible that the person you are dealing with does not.

So, how to answer them?

How about: "I'm sorry, but I am not able to provide company confidential information. I am sure that you understand the need for discretion and will expect the same level of trust when I am your employee."

Yes, this may cost you the job offer (if one actually exists). You can't control how other people react when you exercise your morals.

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  • Right... okay. Exercising morals, thank you! – hihello Nov 14 '20 at 1:27
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Hello, I am currently working in a government contractor company (in the United States), and I recently got cleared for a security clearance.

I'm trying to move to another govt contractor company for another career opportunity. But the prospective employer is asking me to provide them a list of which government clients I've worked for in the past (including the current employer), so that they could cross-check if I'm legally okay to work with them.

Having personal direct experience with getting and maintaining a security clearance in a previous life, it seems strange they are asking for a list of your employer's clients, that seems something that would definitely be considered confidential. At the end of the day, you are in the best position, to determine if that list is confidential. Furthermore, it makes a difference, if this information has been classified Confidential or it's simply confidential business secrets.

(There is a non-solicitation and confidentiality agreement that I've signed with my current company)

You will have to read the confidentiality agreement to determine what information it covers. The non-solicitation clause, exists to prevent you from trying to get your coworkers to leave the company together, and taking your inside knowledge with you.

However, even if you leave the company, since you are dealing with classified information, certain restrictions will remain. You will be unable to share that information that doesn't have a need to know. Additionally, you will still be beholden to the confidentiality clause, which is exclusive and inclusive of any secret information you might know. I also assume, you signed a NDA, for any government information you have been made aware of. Be aware that NDA would be separate from any confidentiality clause with your company.

if you have any question about either clause I would contact a lawyer. However, I must warn you have something, once you leave your current employer your security clearance will be temporarily suspended. What this means, while your security clearance is in this state, you will not be allowed access to classified information.

They also asked me to double check the list with my current manager to make sure, so that I get the correct list of clients. (which makes it feel sketchy, and makes me feel I'm going behind my current employer's back)

You need to determine the security classification of the list in question.

Is this type of process normal/typical thing to do when moving from a govt contractor company to another? If not, what should I do?

When I had a clearance, I never was asked, for a list of agencies that I had worked with. In some cases, I wouldn't have been able to name the agency, at least not on any system my resume would be viewed on.

And in terms of providing them a list, if I knew what client/project that I was supporting for even when I was uncleared, does that mean that my client/project is not cleared/confidential?

If the information is classified as Confidential then you will be unable to release that information to anyone without a need to know. However, information can be classified as Confidential, from the perspective of the U.S. Government. However, a company can also have confidential information, there is a huge difference.

Providing Confidential information on an open system, to somebody that doesn't have the need to know that information, will result in you losing your own security clearance.

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  • It's not clear if you are talking about confidential national security or confidential business secrets. Leaking confidential national secrets will result in you losing your security clearance (and perhaps jail time). Leaking confidential business secrets will result in you being sued in civil court. I left it open ended, since I had already, spent 20 minutes writing the answer. – Donald Nov 10 '20 at 22:26
  • For asking which clients their current employer works with? The author isn’t a government employee he works for a government contractor. The author indicates they want to move from one contractor to another. There is a huge difference between a government civilian and a government contractor. – Donald Nov 11 '20 at 1:34
  • The clearance won't necessarily be suspended. It can be crossed over to the new billets, depending on some criteria. – CGCampbell Nov 13 '20 at 12:05
  • @CGCampbell - That is only typically true within the government itself. The author is a contractor. I have personal knowledge of what happens when somebody moves from civilian to contractor with regards to your security clearance. – Donald Nov 13 '20 at 15:11
  • I bow to your knowledge, I only have anecdotal. I am a contractor and am familiar with contractors moving from company to company, but not from the view of the actual process within security, only from the "new person X is waiting on clearance crossover and is expected to be on site within 2 months" pov. – CGCampbell Nov 13 '20 at 15:17
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As with all security related matter, talk to your FSO about it. Show them what the employer asked for and ask what sort of information you can disclose. Do not just assume or ask people here who might not know anything about security clearance or what sort of things you can disclose.

You can get into a lot of problems. Getting your clearance revoked or investigated on will ensure you can never get a job again. Your records would have a permanent marker on it and no contract employer would want to hire you even if you were cleared and you can get your clearance (too risky for them to waste money on a potential negative).

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  • I've actually never thought of that. this is a good idea. I will try that method as well. Thank you so much. – hihello Nov 14 '20 at 1:28

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