image Standards of Personal Conduct

Standards
Of Personal Conduct

What Is Expected of Me? Adjudicative Guidelines
Behaviors of Security Concern

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What Is Expected of Me?

You are expected to comply with the high standards of conduct normally required of persons holding positions of trust. These standards are set by Executive Order 12968 on Access to Classified Information. This presidential order directs that access shall be granted only to individuals "whose personal and professional history affirmatively indicates loyalty to the United States, strength of character, trustworthiness, honesty, reliability, discretion, and sound judgment, as well as freedom from conflicting allegiances and potential for coercion, and willingness and ability to abide by regulations governing the use, handling, and protection of classified information."

Failure to comply with this standard may cause your eligibility for security clearance to be rejected or re-evaluated. The concept of "continuing evaluation" is an important part of the personnel security process. It means you are subject to periodic re-investigation and to a reasonable degree of monitoring by supervisors, co-workers and security professionals between investigations. These safeguards are necessary because people change over time. Experience shows that persons approved for a position of trust sometimes fall into a pattern of unreliable or untrustworthy behavior after being granted an initial clearance.

The formal process for initial approval or subsequent reconsideration of a security clearance is called "adjudication." This adjudicative process is guided by a regulation entitled Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information, approved by the President in 1997. These guidelines apply to all U.S. Government agencies, and to both government employees and cleared contractors.

The full regulation is available by clicking on Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information. The Adjudicative Guidelines cover the 13 areas of security-relevant behavior listed below. For each issue area, the guidelines cite the basis for security concern, potentially disqualifying conditions, and conditions that might mitigate (offset) adverse information. For a direct link to the policy for one of these issue areas, click on the issue area below.

Alcohol Consumption
Allegiance to the United States
Criminal Conduct
Drug Involvement
Emotional, Mental, and Personality Disorders
Financial Considerations
Foreign Influence
Foreign Preference
Misuse of Information Technology Systems
Outside Activities
Personal Conduct
Security Violations
Sexual Behavior

Since the policies are expressed in quite general terms, you may also want to view a list of Examples of Behaviors of Potential Security Concern Security under each of these 13 categories. For a discussion of some of the more common personal problems that employees have, and how to avoid a security problem by getting help for yourself or a co-worker, see the information on Understanding and Helping with Personal Problems.

In addition to complying with these standards yourself, Executive Order 12968 states that you are "encouraged and expected" to take appropriate action if you become aware that a co-worker appears to be violating these standards of personal conduct. This is discussed in Reporting Improper, Unreliable or Suspicious Behavior.

You are also expected to report any known or suspected Foreign Intelligence Activity about which you become aware and any indications -- known as "Anomalies" -- that a foreign country has unexpected knowledge of U.S. national security information.

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