Contractors' Questions: What if my security clearance has lapsed?

Contractor's Question: I am currently security cleared to SC level but this has lapsed as it has not been used over the last 12 months. Over the last few weeks I have received calls for cleared roles, but have been rejected purely due to my clearance having lapsed. Can agencies reject me solely on these grounds? Should it not be up to the client to make such a decision? Even though my skill-set matches some of the roles perfectly, and I have worked in cleared environments before, I'm still being turned down. Is there anything else I can say to the agency to persuade them of my suitability?

Expert's Answer: Security Check (SC), or SC Cleared, is required for people who have substantial access to secret or occasional controlled access to top secret assets. There are several checks that need to be completed for SC to be granted and most of them are time sensitive. For example, a clear credit or a criminal check today, does not guarantee that the individual will be cleared next week, and this is why SCs expire.

Here is what is required to obtain SC:

  • Baseline Personnel Security Standard (which is normally undertaken as part of the recruiting process)
  • Departmental / Company Records Check
  • Security Questionnaire
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Credit Reference Check
  • Security Service Check

As mentioned above clearance is only valid for a pre-determined period after which some of the checks will need to be re-run. The length of the period is determined by the cabinet office.

Agencies can reject you based on a lapsed SC as their client cannot engage you. This is because government contracts require clients to only take contractors with valid SC for certain projects. That said, it may be faster for a client to arrange for a review of your SC rather than to engage a new contractor who will need a brand new SC. I recommend that you point this out to the agent, and use this tack with agencies hiring for SC roles. You may end up getting more interviews. Good luck!

The expert was Alexandra Kelly, managing director of Powerchex, a pre-employment screening firm.