Author: Michelle D. Christensen, Analyst in Government Organization and Management; Frederick M. Kaiser, Visiting Scholar
This report provides a primer on some of the fundamental aspects of the security clearance process, using a “Frequently Asked Questions” format. A security clearance is a determination that an individual-whether a direct federal employee or a private contractor performing work for the government-is eligible for access to classified national security information. A security clearance alone does not grant an individual access to classified materials. Rather, a security clearance means that an individual is eligible for access. In order to gain access to specific classified materials, an individual should also have a demonstrated “need to know” the information contained in the specific classified materials.