As part of the Sandia Personnel Security Department, the Clearance Office is responsible for administering all access requests (cleared and uncleared) for Members of the Workforce which includes employees, pre-employees, PO contractors, JIT contractors, staff augmentation, fee and no-fee consultants, non-employee students, and weapon interns. For visits (classified or unclassified) to Sandia, refer to ' Badge Office'.

Requesting Access (Cleared or Uncleared) for a Member of the Workforce

The  Sandia Total Access Request Tool (START), an IT application, is the means by which all access (cleared and uncleared) and associated badging requests are initiated for Members of the Workforce. Cleared access actions can include the initial request, reinstatement, extension, upgrade, downgrade, reciprocity, reinvestigation, etc.  START is accessible only through the Sandia Restricted Network (SRN).  For questions about START, contact Security Connection at 505.845-1321 or security@sandia.gov.

Access requests  for classified/unclassified visits and foreign nationals must be processed using the Incoming Visits System managed by the Badge Office, or Foreign National Request Application administered by the Foreign Interactions Office, respectively.  See ‘Incoming Visits’ and ‘Foreign Interactions Office’ for details.

Note that Unescorted access onto Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) in Albuquerque, NM (where most SNL/NM facilities are located), requires Defense Biometric Identification System (DBIDS) authorization administered by KAFB. See ‘KAFB Access (DBIDS)’ for details.

1. Initiating an Access Request

Any Member of the Workforce with SRN access may initiate a clearance action for a U.S. citizen by completing the following in sequence:
  1. Ensure the applicant(s) is:

    • Entered into Enterprise Person (EP), Sandia’s central repository of person data that is the gateway to physical and logical (i.e., cyber) access

    • Has an existing active relationship with the SNL organization that is requesting access.

    • For contractors:

      • Ensure that the Oracle record of the contract (managed by Procurement) is accurate or has been updated as necessary to reflect any changes (e.g., new contract start/end dates).

      • If the contractor is cleared, also do the following:

        • Ensure the Contract Security Classification Specification (CSCS) record maintained by Contract Security Management (CSM) is similarly up-to-date.

        • Confirm that this information is accurate prior to creating or modifying an Enterprise Person (EP) relationship.

To resolve contract-related questions, contact the responsible Sandia Delegated Representative (SDR).
  1. Additional Relevant Information:

    • Data in EP must be complete and accurate before any START request is initiated.

    • For new-hire Sandia employees, HR is responsible for establishing/modifying the EP record.

    • Mandatory EP data about the applicant include:

      • Legal first and last name (include middle name if available)*

      • Social Security Number.*

      • Date of Birth.*

      • Birth Country.*

      • Country of Citizenship(s).*

      • Relationship to SNL (e.g., employee, contractor).

      • Relationship start and end dates. (For contractors these dates must be within the applicable contract period of performance.)

      • Current active contract number (applicable for contract relationships).

      • Work Location.

      • Valid/current email address (critical for notifications to the applicant when requesting a clearance).

        • For updates/corrections to these biographical items on an existing employee EP record, contact HR Records at hr-records@sandia.gov concerning employees.

        • For updates/corrections to all other relationship types (contractors, visitors, etc.), contact an EP Data Steward in the Badge Office at badgeoffice@sandia.gov for SNL/NM and remote sites, or cabadges@sandia.gov for SNL/CA. Changes in EP can also be made via Security Connection (505-845-1321 or security@sandia.gov).

  2. Engage START. Be prepared to confirm, select, or provide the following information about the applicant:

    • Name.

    • Relationship to SNL (e.g., employee, contractor).

    • Contract number, period of performance, and company name ( applicable for contract relationships).

    • Work location.

    • U.S. citizenship.

    • Valid/current email address ( critical for notifications to the applicant when requesting a clearance) .  By default, START will use the address recorded in EP.

    • Requested access level (i.e., cleared or uncleared access).

      For cleared access requests, the following  additional information is required:

      • Level and category of classified information (e.g, SRD, NSI, CFRD) to be accessed.

      • Frequency of access (daily, weekly or monthly)

      • An unclassified justification statement describing the duties of the applicant’s position that require cleared access.

      • Birth country (and state if U.S.).

      • Birth city.

CAUTION: Incomplete or inaccurate data must be corrected before a request can be submitted. Some data fields in START are editable, while others are pre-populated from the EP record. If edits are made in START, it is important to also make them in the applicable EP record.

To assist in ensuring that all necessary information is present at the time of entry into EP and START, consider using the START Data Entry Assistance Sheet.

2. Subsequent Processing

Upon successful submission of an access request via START, the process will proceed as follows, depending on the type of access desired:   

Uncleared

For uncleared access/badge requests, managerial approval alone will quickly result in authorization for an uncleared badge. The requestor, the applicant’s SNL manager, the office administrative assistant (OAA), and (if applicable) the contracting company’s Facility Security Officer (FSO) will be notified to inform the applicant that an uncleared badge may be obtained at the Badge Office.  

Cleared

Both SNL management and Clearance Office review and approval is required prior to submission to DOE for clearance processing. While awaiting a clearance decision, the applicant will be authorized for uncleared access (and badge as necessary) and the requestor, the applicant’s SNL manager, the OAA, and (if applicable) the contracting company’s FSO will be notified to inform the applicant that an uncleared badge may be obtained at the Badge Office.

Additionally, the applicant will be notified directly by email of any tasks and associated deadlines necessary to complete the clearance request. The SNL manager, OAA, and (if applicable) FSO will be copied on all such messages. 

If all required actions are completed by the applicant, the request will be forwarded to DOE. Upon receipt of a clearance decision by DOE, the Clearance Office will notify all relevant parties by email.

The DOE Personnel Clearance Process

Concept

The Department of Energy (DOE) Personnel Security Program establishes requirements that ensure its missions are accomplished in a secure environment by men and women in whom both the Department and the American people may place their complete trust and confidence. An indication of this trust and confidence is a security clearance.

A security clearance is an administrative determination that an individual is eligible for access to classified information. An access authorization is an administrative determination that an individual is eligible for access to particular types or categories of classified information or material. Unless otherwise indicated, the term "security clearance" encompasses the term access authorization.

No individual will be provided access to classified information or Special Nuclear Material (SNM) unless that individual has been granted the appropriate security clearance and possesses a need-to-know. Access to, knowledge of, or possession of classified information or SNM will not be afforded to any individual solely by virtue of the individual's office, position, or security clearance.

Security clearances and access authorizations denote an individual's eligibility for access to a particular type of classified information or material, such as National Security Information (NSI), Restricted Data (RD), Formerly Restricted Data (FRD), or Special Nuclear Material (SNM). In determining such eligibility, DOE may investigate and consider any matter that relates to the determination of whether access is clearly consistent with the interests of national security. Generally, DOE issues Q and L access authorizations.

An individual's eligibility is based on the completion of a personnel security investigation conducted for DOE by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or other federal agency authorized to conduct background investigations.

Application Criteria

  • Only U.S. citizens who are at least 18 years of age are eligible for a DOE clearance. For SNL employees, the Clearance Office must receive proof of citizenship within three working days from the date of new-hire sign-in.  For SNL subcontractors, the contracting companies are responsible for verifying U.S. citizenship of their employees applying for a clearance.  Also see " Acceptable Evidence of U.S. Citizenship" under ‘ DOE Clearance Topics of Interest’.

  • Applicants for and current holders of DOE L or Q clearances are subject to applicant, random, and “for cause” drug testing.

  • New employees are subject to initial pre-employment background reviews (PEBR), even when a clearance is not required.

  • Consultants are subject to pre-processing background reviews, unless they already possess a verifiable federal agency clearance.

  • SNL contracting companies are required to complete background reviews of their personnel who are submitted for clearances.

  • For all Members of the Workforce, subsequent background reviews may be initiated in association with a request for clearance reinstatement following an absence from work (e.g., leave of absence) over one year in duration, or of any duration when the previous background review is older than one year, or when no record of an earlier background review exists.

  • Sandia will not process clearances for off-roll employees or contractors who are not authorized under a current contract.

  • Foreign Nationals (i.e., any person who is not a U.S. citizen or a U.S. national) are not eligible for clearance processing.

Sequence of Events

Upon completion of requisite actions (e.g., Personal Identify Verification steps, drug testing, completion of e-QIP) by the clearance applicant—via the online Sandia Total Access Request Tool (START)—the following events occur:
  • The SNL Clearance Office submits a clearance request to the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Office of Personnel and Facility Clearances and Classification (OPFCC).

  • OPFCC reviews the clearance request and upon approval submits a background investigation (BI) request to the applicable federal investigative agency (e.g., DCSA or FBI).

  • Upon completion of the BI, a report is forwarded to OPFCC for adjudication as the determining authority. The amount of time in the adjudicative process varies according to the nature and extent of the information reviewed.

  • Based on its adjudication, NNSA grants or denies the clearance and notifies the SNL Clearance Office accordingly. Only the decision itself, not the surrounding reasons, are provided to SNL.

  • The SNL Clearance Office notifies the applicant of NNSA's decision and, if applicable, authorizes issuance of a cleared badge. In the event of an unfavorable decision, the individual is also directly notified by NNSA.

DOE Adjudication

Security clearance determinations are based on information acquired through the investigation conducted on the applicant or employee or otherwise available to personnel security officials.

All individuals' initial and continued eligibility for security clearances are adjudged against the Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information (National Guidelines). Where DOE has no information related to any of the areas of concern identified in the Guidelines, either from the report of investigation or from other sources, a favorable determination must be made. Where DOE has information related to any areas of concern identified in the Guidelines, either from the report of investigation or from other sources, such information will be regarded as derogatory and create a question as to the individual's security clearance eligibility. If questions as to the individual's security clearance eligibility can be favorably resolved in accordance with the processes and considerations set forth in the Guidelines, the appropriate security clearance must be granted or continued.

The adjudication process is the careful weighing of a number of variables, known as the whole person concept, utilizing the National Guidelines. In evaluating the relevance of an individual's conduct, the DOE will assess the disqualifying and mitigating conditions outlined in the National Guidelines, which take the following factors into account:

  • the nature, extent, and seriousness of the conduct

  • the circumstances surrounding the conduct, to include knowledgeable participation

  • the frequency and recentness of the conduct

  • the individual's age and maturity at the time of the conduct

  • the voluntariness of participation

  • the presence or absence of rehabilitation and other permanent behavioral changes

  • the motivation for the conduct

  • the potential for pressure, coercion, exploitation, or duress

  • the likelihood of continuation or recurrence

DOE Due Process for Adverse Determinations

If clearance applicants are found to not meet the standards for access to classified information, DOE initiates the Administrative Review procedures to deny or revoke a security clearance, as set forth in 10 CFR 710. These procedures are established to ensure that an individual is afforded full due process in a manner consistent with traditional American concepts of justice and fairness. The individual will be notified directly by DOE and the SNL Clearance Office for additional information and instructions.

DOE Clearance Topics of Interest

Background Investigations and Reinvestigations

Background investigations are used by federal agencies (e.g., DOE) as the basis for security clearance determinations, as required by Executive Orders and other rules and regulations. The process begins with a Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86), completed via the electronic Questionnaire for Investigation Processing (e-QIP), an online application. Information required on this questionnaire includes detailed information about you and your background. In general, the investigation consists of a variety of record checks and, depending on the clearance level requested, may involve a personal interview with you and interviews with persons who know you well (e.g., family, friends, and references) or otherwise know of you (e.g., neighbors, co-workers, associates).  If you are required to apply for a clearance, you will be informed by your manager. The Clearance Office will then contact you and provide instructions.

Background Reinvestigations are required and are intended to ensure that individuals with security clearances are routinely re-evaluated to determine their continued need and eligibility to possess their clearances. Reinvestigations for “L” and “Q” access authorizations occur on 10- and 5-year cycles, respectively. When you are due for a clearance reinvestigation, you will be contacted by the Clearance Office and provided instructions.

Background Investigator Identity and Methods of Contact

The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) under the U.S. Department of Defense is responsible for conducting most background investigations for the federal government.  

In addition to Special Agents, DCSA uses a variety of contractors (e.g., Perspecta, CACI, Securitas) to support its mission. These contractors may also use subcontractors. All DCSA-affiliated investigators carry credentials and will identify themselves as associated with DCSA.

To facilitate their function, investigators are authorized to call, email, and text persons who are under investigation. These contacts are routinely initiated to update information and/or to schedule an interview (e.g., Perspecta online scheduling tool). Investigators are also authorized to conduct telephonic interviews in accordance with DCSA policy.

Those who are contacted by an investigator via phone, email, or text should not disregard this as phishing or marketing attempts.

Prompt response to investigators' messages is essential, to aid in the timely completion of background investigations. Prompt attention also indicates the recipient’s compliance with DOE requirements, which specify that affected individuals must cooperate with the security clearance process.

Verification

As deemed necessary, one may verify the validity of a contact or identity of a DCSA investigator by contacting the DCSA Verification/Complaint Hotline at 1-888-795-5673 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Fridays, or via email to RMFSIMSST@nbib.gov.

Points to Remember

  • The electronic Questionnaire for Investigation Processing (e-QIP) requests both personal contact information (e.g., email/cell phone) and work contact information.

  • Individuals undergoing investigation or reinvestigation should be aware that investigators may contact them using any of the methods mentioned above.

  • To facilitate the clearance process, individuals should respond promptly to investigator requests.

Checking the Status of a Clearance Request Submitted to DOE

Individuals whose clearance request has been submitted to DOE may access the DOE Applicant Tracking System (ATS) an online application provided by DOE to view when:

  • A background investigation is scheduled
  • A completed background investigation has been received by DOE
  • A clearance determination has been made by DOE
For instructions on creating a username and password to access the ATS, refer to the ATS Quick Reference Guide.

Requesting a Copy of Your Background Investigation/e-QIP

To request a copy of your background investigation or investigative form completed in e-QIP, contact the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) for instructions.

Providing Acceptable Evidence of U.S. Citizenship for a DOE Clearance Request

Only U.S. citizens are eligible for a DOE security clearance.  In accordance with DOE requirements, acceptable evidence of U.S. citizenship must be verified and consists of the following:

  • For an individual born in the U.S., one of the following is required:

    • Original or certified U.S. birth certificate.

    • Current or expired U.S. passport.

  • For an individual claiming citizenship by naturalization, a Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570) showing the individual’s name is required.

  • For an individual claiming citizenship acquired by birth abroad to a U.S. citizen, one of the following (showing the individual’s name) is required:

    • Certificate of Citizenship Form N-560 or N-561.

    • Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the U.S. of America (State Department Form FS 240).

    • Certificate of Birth (Form FS 545 or DS 1350).

    • Current or expired U.S. passport.

    • Record of Military Processing - Armed Forces of the U.S. (DD Form 1966), provided it reflects that the individual is a U.S. citizen.

Impact to a Security Clearance Due to an Absence from Work of 90 Calendar Days or More

DOE policy specifies that when an individual’s circumstances temporarily eliminate the need for access to classified matter (including continuous unescorted access to a Limited Area) for 90 calendar days or more, the individual’s security clearance must be administratively terminated.  It is important to note that this type of clearance termination is not an adverse action and does not prevent or hinder a subsequent request to reinstate the clearance.

DOE will consider waiving its requirement to administratively terminate a clearance if the details of a case indicate that such a waiver would be in DOE’s interest. Consequently, Sandia management has the option to initiate, at their sole discretion, a request to waive the DOE requirement and thereby allow an active clearance to be temporarily maintained for a Member of the Workforce who will be absent from work for 90 calendar days or more.

If the waiver request is granted by DOE, the clearance may remain active only up to a maximum of 180 calendar days from the absence start date. If the absence from work continues beyond 180 calendar days, the clearance will be administratively terminated. Thereafter, standard clearance reinstatement requirements apply (i.e., a clearance request must be initiated via the Sandia Total Access Request Tool [START]).

A waiver request must be initiated by Sandia management through the Clearance Office prior to the absence reaching 90 calendar days. If the circumstances involve an actual LOA, the LOA must be formally authorized in accordance with applicable HR policies.  All notifications associated with a waiver request are made to the responsible Sandia manager.

Note that an absence of less than 90 calendar days is not of concern. However, if circumstances indicate in advance that the absence will reach or exceed 90 calendar days and a waiver request is deemed necessary, the request must be initiated as soon as possible to allow sufficient time for processing. Otherwise, if no waiver request is made within the required timeframes, the clearance will be administratively terminated on the 90th day of the individual’s absence and the responsible Sandia manager will be so informed. Thereafter, standard clearance reinstatement requirements apply (i.e., a clearance request must be initiated via the Sandia Total Access Request Tool [START]). For questions, contact Security Connection at 505.845-1321 or security@sandia.gov.

Administrative Termination and Request Withdrawal

DOE clearance administrative terminations are associated with granted clearances. DOE clearance withdrawals are associated with pending clearance requests. Generally, these actions are not adverse in nature and do not prevent or hinder a subsequent request to reinstate a previously held clearance or reapply for a new one. In addition, DOE clearance administrative terminations and withdrawals are actions exclusive to the DOE clearance process and have no relationship to employment or contract-related matters.

Administrative Termination and Request Withdrawal
An administrative termination of a clearance may occur when:
  • Clearance is no longer required (e.g., no longer employed or changed employers)

  • Cleared person is absent from work (e.g., on a leave of absence or extended leave) and will not require access to classified matter or Special Nuclear Material (SNM) for 90 consecutive calendar days or more. Also see “Impact to a Security Clearance Due to an Absence from Work of 90 Calendar Days or More” above.

  • Access to classified matter or SNM is no longer required.

Because an individual's responsibility to protect classified and sensitive information continues long after termination of their clearance, DOE requires formerly cleared Members of the Workforce to review and sign DOE F 5631.29, Security Termination Statement.  To simplify the administrative termination process and ensure consistency, the required Termination Briefing and associated Security Termination Statement—previously administered/delivered separately—are combined into one form: DOE F 5631.29, Security Termination Statement and Security Termination Briefing (SEC225) Addendum. This form is commonly prepared and completed in the presence of the individual’s manager, who also signs the form as the “Debriefing Official.” A Human Resource Business Partner or Sandia Designated Representative may also prepare the form and sign as the "Debriefing Official."

Important points to keep in mind:

  • DOE F 5631.29 must be returned to the appropriate Clearance Office within 2 working days of the clearance termination action.

    • The completed form may be submitted via fax, encrypted email, or hand carry.

    • Do not use interoffice mail.

    • The affected individual should retain the Security Termination Briefing (SEC225) Addendum portion for his/her records.

  • In all cases, effort must be made to directly contact the affected individual to complete the briefing.

  • If the affected individual is not available to review and sign DOE F 5631.29 in a timely manner, the form must still be completed (under signature of a Debriefing Official) and submitted to the appropriate Clearance Office within 2 working days of the clearance termination action. At the individual’s signature block, the annotation “unavailable for signature” must be indicated.

  • Completion of the DOE F 5631.29 only terminates the security clearance; it does not affect employment or contract status.

Clearance Request Withdrawal

If an clearance request in progress is no longer necessary, prompt notification must be made by email to clearance-nm@sandia.gov or clearance-ca@sandia.gov (SNL/CA only). The notification must include the individual's name, a statement of intent to withdraw the clearance request, and whether an uncleared authorization (and badge as applicable) for the individual remains necessary.

DOE Clearances and Dual Citizenship

DOE allows for a dual citizen to apply for a security clearance provided one of the citizenships is with the United States. The clearance application must also include a signed certification by the Sandia Laboratories Director that (1) states the applicant’s position requires the level of access requested, and (2) confirms the Director is aware the individual is a dual citizen. The Director’s decision to provide the certification (or not) is based, in part, on consultation with SNL Counterintelligence.

Related Information

  • Dual citizenship may impact an individual’s eligibility for other access authorization types such as SAP, SIGMA, SCI, etc. As necessary, contact each responsible program office for details.

  • Any change in citizenship by a Member of the Workforce must be reported in accordance with DOE and SNL reporting requirements.