A security clearance is a determination by the federal government that a person or company can be trusted with classified information. Any company or individual seeking to do business with federal agencies that deal with sensitive national information, such as the Department of Defense (DoD), Central Intelligence Agency or State Department, requires national security clearance.
The Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO) is a Central Adjudication Facility (CAF) that is part of the Defense Security Service (DSS). DISCO processes personnel security clearances for DoD contractors and 23 other federal agencies.
Advantages of Obtaining Security Clearance
Many private companies work with sensitive government information. The company itself must have security clearance, as well as any personnel who will have direct access to secure information.
There are currently more than a half-million background investigations pending national security clearance approval. It can take up to a year for a determination to be made. This means that if a person comes to a company with a security clearance in hand, he or she can begin working on sensitive projects right away – while others cannot. For that reason, experts project that having security clearance can increase an applicant’s salary anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000.
Many individuals seeking security clearance work for US defense-related projects funded through the DoD. However, any company with access to government secrets may have a demand for personnel with security clearance, such as companies in the telecommunications, education, financial, environmental, medical, transportation and energy fields.
Types of Security Clearance
There are three basic types of security clearance:
1. Confidential: This level provides someone access to material whose unauthorized disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause “some measurable harm” to national security. It generally takes between one and three months to obtain such clearance, which must be reinvestigated (reissued) every 15 years.
2. Secret: This level provides someone with access to information whose unauthorized disclosure could be expected to cause “serious damage” to national security. It generally takes between one and three months to obtain such clearance, which must be reinvestigated every 10 years.
3. Top Secret: This level provides someone with access to information whose disclosure could be expected to cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security. It generally takes between four and eight months to obtain such clearance, which must be reinvestigated every five years.
Who can obtain security clearance?
A person can’t simply apply for security clearance to become more marketable. Rather a cleared contractor or government agency may sponsor an individual who meet one of two criteria: (a) the person currently works for them, or (b) that person has received and accepted a written offer of employment to begin within 30-days of receiving clearance.
If a person’s national security clearance application is denied, that person can appeal the decision to the US Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA). If YOUR security clearance has been denied, the Edmunds Law Firm can help you appeal your case. Give us a call at 800-481-2526 or contact us today!