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In the Washington, DC area, having a security clearance is a prerequisite for many jobs, but the actual "holding" of the clearance seems to always be the province of the company for which one works. If I was interested in becoming my own company, how could I go about holding my own clearance and maintaining it?

What forms do I need, what processes do I need to go through?

  • Do you already have a clearance or are you looking to get one to improve your employment opportunities? – rjzii Apr 11 '12 at 19:29
  • I already have one, but due to a bureaucratic mixup, records of it have been lost. Yes, my life has been hell as a result. – Affable Geek Apr 11 '12 at 19:33
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    So there is no record of the NACLC or SSBI? – rjzii Apr 11 '12 at 19:34
  • What I know is that I appear in JPAS as valid, but when they try to crossover my clearance, there is no record, which causes the crossover to fail. As such, I've been in this limbo wherein I can get hired all over the place, but I can't actually seem to enter any buildings for my customer – Affable Geek Apr 11 '12 at 19:38
  • What I really want to know is how to inquire about the status of my clearance so that I can resolve these issues :) – Affable Geek Apr 11 '12 at 19:42
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The Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) is the database that stores information about clearances. It's managed by the Defense Manpower Data Center. They have contact information and regulation about obtaining access, but it appears that you need to have a position that requires you to hold a job that requires you to access the database and its records. An individual can not request access to JPAS on his own, but must go through the Facility Security Officer (FSO). It's up to the FSO to monitor the clearances of the individuals who require (or no longer require) them and the individual to monitor when you received your clearance, when it expires, and properly submit any paperwork regarding status changes that impact your clearance.

You might be interested in the Defense Security Service website, which should have some documents available to the general public about DoD security clearance. The Frequently Asked Questions about the Industrial Personnel Security Clearance Process page should address most of your concerns.

  • Yeah, I'm conflicted, because these links are really helping me, but my question isn't about obtaining, but rather monitoring my own clearance. – Affable Geek Apr 11 '12 at 19:55
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    @AffableGeek I added information about that. There's no way for a security clearance holder to check on the status/vaidity/state of his or her own clearance without going through an authorized FSO. – Thomas Owens Apr 11 '12 at 21:11
  • You can become the FSO of your own company (my prior boss did this). It is a great deal of hassle and work however...with frequent audits, etc. I would suggest just "re-activating" your clearance again when you need it, it isn't that difficult if your clearance hasn't expired. – daaxix Aug 2 '14 at 20:18
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The trouble is that a security clearance is always tied to a specific need to access classified material. To my knowledge there is no way to just have a security clearance without have a specific job or contract where you are required to use it. It doesn't work like a technical certification where you pass a test and it is tied to you individually for a period of time regardless of whether you need it.

If you are moving from one contract or employer to another those clearances can be transferred, but technically your employer is required to notify the agency issuing the clearance within a prescribed amount of time to either transfer it to your new employer or cut it off.

So to more directly answer your question: First your company would need a contract with an agency that required you to have a clearance to do the work. Then you would need to work with them to sponsor your clearance.

Long story short: You can't just get a standard form and apply for a clearance for no reason. You need an Government agency to sponsor your efforts and a good business case for why you need the clearance.

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    You could request one with the purpose of wanting to bid on one or more projects that require clearance as an Independent contractor. You have to meet the GSA requirements for ICs and have one or more specific contracts that you intend to bid on. Then you have to pay for the processing and all the fees that your sponsor normally pays for. In the 90's it ran about 25k. Which is why many employers prefer to hire someone who already has it. But in general your answer is correct. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 11 '12 at 19:33
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    Also, once a clearance becomes in-active, it isn't that difficult to reactivate it if it hasn't expired or needs re-investigation... – daaxix Aug 2 '14 at 20:20
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With regards to monitoring a security clearance, there really isn't much you can do other than noting when the various background investigations will need to be redone so you can keep your CV up to date as once the background investigation expires it loses any value when it comes to job hunting. You don't get any notification when things lapse and if you interview with someone saying that your investigation is valid and that is not the case they may not want to keep you around for a reinvestigation.

When you leave the FSO may be able to provide you with a print out saying when the relevant investigations were performed for your records.

From your comments to the question it sounds like you really need to be talking to the FSO and having them find out what is going. Likewise, if you are in a certain field then that may help as different agencies can help sort things out better for their own people than trying to take the general approach to the problem.

In summary, if you are currently employee by someone you should talk to your FSO and work closely with them until the issue is resolved. If you aren't currently employed by someone then you are better off just indicating when the relevant investigations were conducted as a lot of issues might get cleared up just by changing sponsors.

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To form a company that holds clearances, you will need a facilities clearance. This is a completely separate process from your personal clearance. You will need a sponsoring organization. You don't need a personal clearance for a company you start to get a facilities clearance; it will just speed up the process. If the company you form does not obtain a facilities clearance, your clearances will be managed by prime contractors to whom you sub.

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