Are polygraph (lie detector) tests required?
A polygraph examination is mandatory for employment by or assignment to the DSS and the National Security Agency (NSA), and for assignment (or loan) of DOD personnel to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It is also mandatory for some SCI and SAP access programs.
Additionally, the polygraph may be used for any other personnel security investigations to resolve serious credible derogatory information, and then only with the consent of the examine. No adverse action may be taken solely on the basis of a polygraph examination that indicates deception, except upon the written finding by the Secretary or Under Secretary of Defense, or a Secretary of one of the military departments, that the classified information in question is of such extreme sensitivity that access under the circumstances poses an unacceptable risk to the national security.
Polygraph examinations may also be used to supplement investigations of federal felonies, of unauthorized disclosure of classified information or of alleged acts of terrorism, or when requested by the subject of a personnel security investigation, for exculpation with respect to allegations arising in the investigation.
The DOD regulation details the exact manner in which the examination must be conducted. No relevant question may be asked during the polygraph examination that has not been reviewed with the person to be examined before the examination, and all questions must have a special relevance to the inquiry. Certain "validating" questions may be asked without prior disclosure to establish a baseline from which the examiners can judge the validity of the answers to the relevant questions. The probing of a person's thoughts or beliefs, or questions on subjects that are not directly relevant to the investigation, such as religious or political beliefs or beliefs and opinions about racial matters, are prohibited.
What About these Companies that Advertise to Hire People With Clearances?
If you already have a valid security clearance, that's a valuable commodity for government contractors whose employees require a security clearance. Processing security clearances cost money, and requires time (sometimes several months). The average cost to process a SECRET clearance can run from several hundred dollars to $3,000, depending upon individual factors. The average cost to process a TOP SECRET clearance is between $3,000 and about $15,000, depending upon individual factors.
The government pays the cost of clearances for military personnel and civilian government employees. The law requires that contractors pay most of the costs of obtaining clearances for their employees. That's why contractors quite often advertise to try and find employees who already hold a valid clearance. It saves them several thousands of dollars. Additionally, it saves them time, as they don't have to wait for months for the new employee to obtain a clearance, and begin to do the job they were hired for.
You cannot simply request a clearance for yourself and offer to pay for it. To obtain a clearance you have to have a job which requires one (either by being in the military, or a government civilian job, or a contractor job).
However, there is no reason why you should not apply for these jobs. If it comes down to a choice between you and a candidate who already has a clearance, the contractor will probably choose the other candidate (saving thousands of dollars in the process). However, if the contractor can't find anyone else who already holds a clearance, they may decide to hire you anyway, and pay for your clearance process.
Continued in Part 3 - Information DSS Has On You