‘You Shall Not Pass!’: Security Clearances in SAP

Posted on November 2015 By Speller International

​Security is always serious business and, as the Australian federal and state governments increase their SAP scope, it is becoming an even more pressing issue in our industry. Because of this, the past few years have seen an increase in the requirements of certain clearances candidates need to either have already, or get before starting in the role.

The language around these clearances is popping up everywhere: you may have noticed in recent months we ourselves have advertised for roles that require a NV1 clearance, for example. It gets more serious, too: more and more, we are sending out contracts for candidates with special clauses referring to specific clearances and the candidate’s successful attainment of a police clearance or the verification of other security clearances.

So why do these clearances exist? Long story short, they are required for candidates who need to access classified information/resources in order to perform their role. Seems fair right? You wouldn’t want someone with a history of theft having access to sensitive information, would you?!

So what actually ARE clearances?

Australia has four levels of security vetting, each involving more rigorous checking than the last:

  • Baseline Vetting: permits access to classified information/resources up to and including PROTECTED – takes approx. 1 month to attain, valid for 15 years

  • Negative Vetting Level 1: permits access to classified information/resources up to and including SECRET – takes approx. 4 months to attain, valid for 10 years

  • Negative Vetting Level 2: permits access to classified information/resources up to and including TOP SECRET – takes approx. 6 months to attain, valid for 5 years

  • Positive Vetting: permits access to resources at all classification levels, including certain types of caveated and codeword information – takes approx. 6 months to attain, valid for 5 years

Okay, so how do I get mine done?

Some clearances are a relatively simple process, for example police checks. In terms of logistics, it is usually the client that arranges police checks on your behalf based on the questions you complete – however there are many options where you can secure your own online police check (such as CV check) to give you peace of mind that the client one is going to come through with no issues. These preliminary police checks take just one hour, which gives candidates the confidence to resign from their current role knowing the check has come back positive rather than waiting until after the official police check clearance from the client which can take 5-10 working days.

Government security clearances are a little more complex and, since we have been advertising roles with specific clearance requirements, we have been receiving a number of questions around these from candidates, which has lead us to discover the wealth of resources at the AGSVA website. Because these clearances are much more intensive, candidates cannot actually apply for these on their own – you need to be sponsored by an Australian Government agency.

What happens once I have my clearance?

If you are lucky enough to have a security clearance, you need a current government sponsor to keep it active. If you are leaving your government role, the AGSVA is advised and your clearance is made inactive. If you are transferring to a new agency and still require a security clearance, your new agency has to notify the AGSVA they are now your sponsor. Inactive security clearances can be reactivated in accordance with certain protocols which are outlined on the AGSVA website.

As you can see, getting (and keeping) a security clearance is a pretty involved process, but it is this way for a number of very good reasons. If you are applying for a role that requires security clearances of any level, your recruiter should explain how these work and how to ensure you have attained the right stuff so you get the green light from the government Gandalf and pass into the world of high security SAP.