By John V. Berry, www.berrylegal.com
This article has been updated to provide the most common reasons that a security clearance might be denied in the reported government contractor decisions to date. The information, taken from January 1, 2016 to the present (end of April, 2016), comes from the Department of Defense (DOD), Defense Office Of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) decisions. These are available online. Our last article on the subject contained only about 40 decisions. The DOHA caselaw database has since been significantly updated, providing far more decisions to include in this type of analysis.
Security Clearance Guidelines
Keep in mind that reported DOHA decisions generally cover clearance appeals from DOD contractor employees, but the information provides a good insight into the most common reasons that an individual may have security clearance issues arise. There are several reasons why security clearances can be potentially denied, which generally fall under 13 separate categories known as the Adjudicative Guidelines. The federal government uses these 13 adjudicative guidelines to determine whether federal employees and contractors should be eligible for a security clearance to gain or maintain access to classified information. These guidelines include:
Guideline A: Allegiance to the United States
Guideline B: Foreign Influence
Guideline C: Foreign Preference
Guideline D: Sexual Behavior
Guideline E: Personal Conduct
Guideline F: Financial Considerations
Guideline G: Alcohol Consumption
Guideline H: Drug Involvement
Guideline I: Psychological Conditions
Guideline J: Criminal Conduct
Guideline K: Handling Protected Information
Guideline L: Outside Activities
Guideline M: Use of Information Technology Systems
Based on the 273 decisions issued by the Department of Defense (DoD), Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) from January 1, 2016 to the end of April, 2016, by far the most common reason why a security clearance has been denied is based on Guideline F, Financial considerations. Financial consideration issues usually arise when an applicant for a security clearance has too many outstanding or delinquent debts, is facing bankruptcy, has credit report problems, or has unaddressed tax liens. The second most common reason why a security clearance has been denied in 2016 so far has been based on Guideline E, Personal Conduct. Personal conduct issues can involve a broad range of misconduct, such as information regarding an individual’s prior termination, arrest, or domestic incident, truthfulness in completing security clearance forms, or basically any other type of general wrongdoing, criminal, or otherwise.
The third most common security issue in 2016 where an individual might face a denial of a security clearance involves Guideline B, Foreign Influence. Foreign Influence issues can involve applicants whose family has ties to another government, country or an applicant who maintains dual citizenship, among other concerns. The fourth most common reason why a security clearance has been denied in 2016 is based on Guideline H, Drug Involvement. Drug involvement or abuse is considered to be the illegal use of a drug or use of a legal drug in a manner that deviates from approved medical direction (e.g., overuse of prescription pain medication).
Of the 273 cases reported thus far in 2016, the issues that have raised security concerns are as follows (in cases):
- Financial Considerations: 205
- Personal Conduct: 60
- Foreign Influence: 18
- Drug Involvement/Usage: 17
- Criminal Conduct: 15
- Alcohol Consumption:14
- Foreign Preference: 8
- Handling Protected Information: 3
- Sexual Behavior: 3
- Psychological Concerns: 2
- Use of Information Technology: 2
It is important to note that the reported DOHA decisions generally cover security clearance appeals from DoD contractor employees, but the decisions provide good insight into common reasons why the federal government denies security clearances. When an individual is engaged in the security clearance hearing or personal appearance process, it is important to have legal representation. Our law firm represents individuals in the security clearance process. We can be contacted at www.berrylegal.com or by telephone at (703) 668-0070. Our Facebook page is located here.