Outside activities are those jobs or relationships occurring outside of the United States and involving relationships with foreign countries, persons and businesses. With the internet, social media, and connectivity, there are great opportunities to meet other like-minded business people. The world seems to be getting smaller, while opportunities are increasing. Forming businesses with foreign people and companies can create new jobs, products, and services. These opportunities can also elevate partners to senior management levels and with high value stocks. However, they could come with a cost to those who might seek a government security clearance. Let’s look at a few examples:
It’s ComplicatedAn applicant is the president and CEO of a company incorporated in Singapore. Key management employees and decision makers are foreign citizens and almost half of his income is from the company. He spends time oversees, with foreign citizens, and other foreign companies related to his business.
His ability to safeguard classified and sensitive information could be influenced by his business interests, foreign relationships, or financial portfolio. Pressure from his outside activities could cause him to disclose classified or sensitive information to unauthorized persons through coercion or exploitation. Therefore, the decision to deny the applicant a security is made in favor of the national security.
Hail BritanniaThe applicant is the president of an American subsidiary of a British-based company that does business with the Department of Defense. Prior to the promotion, he was an employee at the same foreign company. He has a substantial financial stake with the company by virtue of his high valued stock. Because of his employment in the foreign organization and serving as a representative of the foreign country, his clearance was denied. His high position in the company, share of stocks, and possible relationships with foreign partners could cause him to be vulnerable to coercion or exploitation.
Risk MitigatedAn applicant worked as vice president of business development for a wholly-owned subsidiary of an Israeli company. In his position, he marketed computer hardware and software to U.S. companies. He was hired for the job after meeting the owner at a trade show, but had very infrequent interaction with the owner.
The applicant has not worked for the company in a few years. Also he no longer has ties with the company neither by positions, finances, relationships, or shares. His relationship and interaction with his former employer and employees is infrequent if ever. The applicant has mitigated concerns raised by Guideline L by completely separation himself from the business. This demonstrated separation has greatly reduced the likelihood of any potential security incident and therefor has been granted a security clearance.
Outside activities where U.S. persons enjoy foreign positions, relationships, and financial benefits can be rewarding but do come with a cost. Though these are great opportunities, they can be detrimental to those who are or wish to eventually pursue jobs requiring U.S. government security clearances. Security clearance applicants should demonstrate that they are not bringing additional risk to classified or sensitive information through their outside activities. The concern for Guideline L is that certain types of outside employment or activities is of security concern if it poses a conflict of interest with an individual's security responsibilities and could create an increased risk of unauthorized disclosure of classified or sensitive information.
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