By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com
Our law firm represents many individuals in security clearance matters. In previous articles, we have written about the significance of the Statement of Reasons (SOR) in security clearance defense cases. In this article, we are going to discuss some important general issues in regards to responding to an SOR when it is received.
The Statement of Reasons
Typically, an SOR is received by a federal employee or federal contractor when it has been recommended that their security clearance be revoked. Generally, the employee or contractor will receive a notice which lists the reasons why it is believed that the individual’s holding of a security clearance is not clearly consistent with the national interest. The SOR will then typically list the security concerns applicable in a case.
These security concerns are listed in the Adjudicative Guidelines through DoD Directive 5220.6 which also provide the basis for seeking mitigation of these security concerns. Finally, the SOR will give you a deadline for responding to the SOR.
How to Respond
1. Take the Response Deadline Seriously: First and foremost, it is very important to be timely in your response to an SOR. Typically, the response time for most SORs is 20 days from receipt of the document. It is highly recommended that an individual respond as early as possible and not wait until one gets close to the deadline. Extensions are possible, but are not always granted. 20 days is not a significant amount of time, so it is important to get started on your response right away.
2. Obtain Counsel to Assist you in your Response: When an SOR is received, it must be taken seriously and one should seek counsel to help them in responding to the security concerns raised. The consequences for not doing so can be serious harm to one’s career. Often times an experienced attorney in this area can identify potential mitigating circumstances that can help one make the argument that their security clearance should be granted.
3. Review the Security Concerns in the SOR Fully: An individual should make sure that they have read over all portions of the SOR in preparation for responding to the security concerns. They should then outline a response to the concerns that have been raised in preparation for drafting their response.
4. Respond Fully to All of the Security Concerns Listed: Take each security concern seriously and take the time to address each one in your response. Make sure that you have reviewed all mitigating factors to see which ones are potentially applicable and then include them in your SOR response. Also, it is important to attach all potentially mitigating documentation and/or statements to support your contention that the recommendation in the SOR should not be followed. When we represent individuals in responding to SORs the presentation of relevant documents and statements are a key part of the response process and should be done in most cases.
Closing Thoughts on Responding to an SOR
Retaining an attorney familiar with the issues in responding to an SOR in the security clearance process is highly recommended. It is very important to do so early in the process given that the deadlines for responding can be relatively short. Doing so can often make the difference between obtaining or being denied your security clearance. Our law firm represents federal employees and government contractors in these types of security clearance matters and can be contacted at www.berrylegal.com.