Honesty is Always Best Policy when completing the SF-86

Honesty is Always Best Policy on SF-86

There has been a lot of conversation about exactly what information you need to disclose when applying for a security clearance—specifically an SF-86. The Personal Conduct guidelines are quite clear:

  • deliberate omission, concealment, or falsification of relevant facts from any personnel security questionnaire, personal history statement, or similar form used to conduct investigations, determine employment qualifications, award benefits or status, determine security clearance eligibility or trustworthiness, or award fiduciary responsibilities
  •  deliberately providing false or misleading information concerning relevant facts to an employer, investigator, security official, competent medical authority, or other official government representative

If you unintentionally provide false information it is critical that you correct it as soon as it has been revealed. As a security expert, I can tell you firsthand that lies will always catch up with you and failing to make immediate corrections or repeating false assertions will just get you deeper into trouble.


“’Prompt, good-faith efforts to correct the omission, concealment, or falsification before being confronted with the facts’ are critical to successfully mitigating this issue,” writes William Henderson. “When falsification is admittedly deliberate but the applicant promptly attempts to correct it before being confronted, adjudicators can sometimes make a favorable decision if the falsification was an isolated, uncharacteristic lapse in judgment by an otherwise responsible, honest individual.”


Also, be wary of advice you may receive from recruiters, work associates or even lawyers when it comes to information you should or should not disclose on the SF-86 knowing that ultimately you are responsible for the form you have submitted. As a post on the Clearance Jobs Blog states: “Ultimately, it is you who will have to answer the mail when it comes out during the course of the investigation process.”




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