Security Clearance: The Whole-Person Concept

Among people who have been involved with national security clearances the “whole-person” concept has become widely known and often misunderstood. Applicants for security clearance are evaluated on potentially disqualifying and mitigating conditions listed under 13 separate guidelines in the “Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information.”

The adjudicative process is an examination of a sufficient period of a person’s life to make an affirmative determination that the person is an acceptable security risk…The adjudication process is the careful weighing of a number of variables known as the whole-person concept. Available, reliable information about the person, past and present, favorable and unfavorable, should be considered in reaching a determination. In evaluating the relevance of an individual’s conduct, the adjudicator should consider the following factors: (emphasis added)

1. The nature, extent, and seriousness of the conduct;
2. the circumstances surrounding the conduct, to include knowledgeable participation;
3. the frequency and recency of the conduct;
4. the individual’s age and maturity at the time of the conduct;
5. the extent to which participation is voluntary;
6. the presence or absence of rehabilitation and other permanent behavioral changes;
7. the motivation for the conduct;
8. the potential for pressure, coercion, exploitation, or duress; and
9. the likelihood of continuation or recurrence.

These 9 factors, often referred to as the “General Criteria,” must be considered together with the applicable disqualifying and mitigating conditions listed under the 13 guidelines. But these are not the only factors and conditions that may be considered…read more.

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