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What is the difference between a suitability determination and a security clearance?

What is the difference between a suitability determination and a security clearance?

Suitability is a determination based on an individual’s identifiable character traits and conduct that is sufficient to decide whether the individual’s employment or continued employment would or would not protect or promote the efficiency of the agency.

A security clearance is requested when an employee requires access to classified information or systems and has a “need to know.” A security clearance may be granted based on an administrative determination that an individual is eligible for access to classified information or systems based on the favorable security adjudication of a background investigation. Although all employees must meet the suitability requirements for employment, not all employees require a security clearance.