Security Clearance Manual: How to Reduce the Time It Takes to Get Your Government Clearance

By William H. Henderson; Reviewed by Brent Campbell

***** Security Clearance Manual:  How To Reduce The Time It Takes to Get Your Government Clearance. By William H. Henderson; published by Last Post Publishing, (Web); 212 pages; $19.95.

Today, government agencies and contractors alike face a shortage of cleared personnel to work in an ever-increasing range of classified programs. The resulting increase in applications for clearances routinely leaves applicants waiting for more than a year before a final determination is made.

Understanding this time-consuming, complex process can save the applicant months, and in the case of employers, save time and money otherwise wasted on employees who will either see their applications denied or face a lengthy process of extra investigations, hearings, and appeals. Former U.S. Defense Security Service and Office of Personnel Management Special Agent William H. Henderson has written a guide that will help applicants both expedite their applications and increase their chances of success.

The Security Clearance Manual opens with a general discussion of clearances, along with the variety of investigations and processes required to obtain them. The remainder of the text is devoted to a detailed discussion of the Standard Form 86 (SF86), which all applicants must complete. The SF86 is a lengthy, complicated form, and the way in which questions are answered can greatly affect processing time as well as the final outcome.

Drawing on his years of experience, Henderson walks the reader through the SF86 item by item, providing detailed guidance on how to answer questions so that investigators are clear on the answers and so that any negative information is cast in as positive a light as possible. All the while Henderson emphasizes that any hint of omission or falsification could scuttle an applicant’s chances. 

The book is a must-read for clearance applicants. In addition, security professionals charged with vetting internal employees for the application process—and shepherding them through it—would be well-served by the advice.  It will give them a better understanding of the process and help them obtain the best possible results in the shortest possible time.

Reviewer: Brent Campbell is the information system security manager and the security operations support manager for Computer Sciences Corporation in Falls Church, Virginia. He is a member of the ASIS International Council on Information Technology Security.




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