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By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com
This article outlines the security clearance appeals process for those applying for clearances with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). As we have discussed in other blog articles, the U.S. Government security clearance process is not run by one federal agency. The clearance appeals process generally falls into 2 main groups, those run by the Intelligence Community (IC) and those run by the Department of Defense (DoD). That said, each federal agency has their own internal security clearance process with its own nuances.
In addition to security clearances processed by the CIA, many other federal agencies maintain their own procedures and personnel that process their own security clearance decisions for federal employees (e.g. DOD, NGA, NRO, DOJ, etc). It is important to be familiar with each process when appealing an adverse security clearance decision. This article focuses on security clearance appeals for government contractors at the CIA.
The Clearance Process at the CIA for Contractors
The security clearance process at the CIA is fairly different than the one utilized for DoD employees, but based on the same underlying clearance principles. The following are the normal steps in the security clearance review process for those seeking to obtain or retain a CIA security clearance when faced with security concerns. The CIA security clearance process is managed by their clearance appeals office. Employees have the right to counsel before the CIA during the stages of the security clearance appeals process.
Step 1: Notification of Security Disapproval
When a clearance holder has a security clearance issue with the CIA, they will receive a notification of disapproval letter, usually sent on generic letterhead, listing the security concerns at issue and other rights in a Memorandum. The specificity of the security concerns at issue varies, so it is important to obtain additional information. Review rights generally include the ability to obtain documents (i.e the right to request the Investigative File) upon which the revocation or denial is based within 45 days and the ability to request a personal appearance during that timeframe. A personal appearance is an administrative hearing before a panel of clearance adjudicators (or a single adjudicator). An individual can also respond solely in writing and waive the personal appearance. A personal appearance is highly recommended.
Step 2: Receipt of the Investigative File
If the Investigative File has been requested from the CIA, the individual will be provided with the documentation relied upon by the agency in denying the request for security access. Many portions of the file may be redacted, but one can usually discern the issues that need to be addressed. When the Investigative File is received it is important to prepare to respond with a written response and to prepare for the personal appearance at the CIA.
Step 3: Responding to the Security Concerns in Advance of the Personal Appearance
Upon receipt of the Investigative File, the individual will generally want to provide a written reply in preparation for the personal appearance. It is usually important to provide supporting documents, in advance, to give the adjudicator(s) time to review them in advance of the personal appearance. The documents usually need to be provided 2 weeks prior to the scheduled appearance. The CIA follows the Adjudicative Guidelines set forth by the Directive of National Intelligence in ICPG 704.2 when reviewing security clearance matters.
Step 4: The Personal Appearance
The next step in the CIA security clearance process is for the employee to present their response to the adjudicator(s) during their personal appearance. This should be done with the assistance of an attorney. These types of presentations typically take about an hour in length. The individual seeking to overturn the initial should be prepared to respond to the concerns at issue and also for potential questions by the adjudicators.
Step 5: Further Appeals
Generally, the best attempt to overturn the disapproval is at the initial stage. However, in some cases it is important for the individual to appeal the initial decision (either an adverse decision from a written response or an adverse decision issued after the personal appearance). The appeal, if filed, should be filed within 30 days of receipt of the initial unfavorable decision.
When an individual is facing security clearance issues at the CIA or before another federal agency it is important to obtain legal advice and potential legal representation. Our law firm advises individuals in the security clearance process. We can be contacted at www.berrylegal.com or by telephone at (703) 668-0070. Please visit our Facebook page.
By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com
As we have noted in other articles, the U.S. Government security clearance process is not run by one agency. Each federal agency maintains their own procedures and personnel for processing their own security clearance decisions for federal employees (e.g. Treasury, Commerce, DoD, DoE, NRO, DOJ, etc). The DoS is one of those agencies. This article addresses the security clearance process at the DoS for federal employees and applicants.
The Clearance Process at DoS
The security clearance process at the DoS is somewhat similar to the procedures for Department of Defense employees, but there are some differences. The following are the normal steps in the security clearance review process for DoS clearance holders when they are facing security clearance issues. The DoS security clearance process is managed by the DoS Office of Personnel Security and Suitability (PSS). It is important to note that employees have the right to counsel before DoS at all stages of the clearance process. The Personnel Security process is governed by 12 FAM 230, Personnel Security.
Step 1: Notification Letter
When a federal employee or applicant has a security clearance issue with DoS, they will receive a notification letter from the Director of the Diplomatic Security Service/PSS, listing the security concerns at issue in granting or continuing the clearance and other rights in a Memorandum. These rights generally include the ability to obtain any documents (investigative file) upon which the revocation or denial is based within 10 days. Upon receipt of the information from DoS, the individual generally has 30 days in which to provide a written reply. In this reply, the individual will be given an opportunity in which to respond to the security concerns in an effort to mitigate them. DoS follows the Adjudicative Guidelines when reviewing security clearance matters, so it is important to be knowledgeable about them.
Step 2: Responding to the Notification Letter/Memorandum
Following a review of the investigative file, at this stage, the individual responds to the Notification Letter and all of the materials in the investigative file from DoS. A response should address the security concerns at issue directly, e.g. Guideline F, Financial Considerations, or other issues and focus on the potential mitigation of the security concerns. This response should be comprehensive and cover both the security concerns, mitigation and the whole-person concept. It is critical to provide a full and fully-documented response.
Step 3: Decision by Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security
Once the response by the individual is received, DoS Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security will review the Director's decision, the file and also the individual’s reply and will issue a decision as to whether or not the security concerns have been resolved. If so, the matter is then resolved favorably for the federal employee. If not, the individual will have an opportunity to further appeal the denial or revocation.
Step 4: Review by DoS Security Appeals Panel
The next step in the DoS security clearance process is for the employee to appeal to the DoS Security Appeals Panel within 30 days of the adverse decision in Step 3. Generally, the individual has 2 weeks prior to the Security Appeals Panel’s meeting to submit additional documents the they want included in the review. The individual can, and is recommended to exercise his/her right for an in person appeal before the panel. This should be done with the assistance of counsel. These types of presentations typically take between 45 minutes to an hour. The Security Appeals Panel can ask for additional information from an individual if it feels it needs additional information in order to make an informed decision.
Step 5: DoS Appeals Panel Decision
Following the personal appearance, the DoS Security Appeals Panel issues a decision, either granting the clearance or access at issue or a denial. The decision is final, but the individual may re-apply after a waiting period.
When an individual is facing security clearance issues at the DoS or in another federal agency it is important to obtain legal advice and potential representation. Our law firm advises 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.
By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com
We often represent employees in security clearance denials, revocations and other clearance related matters. One issue that we often run across involves the issue of employers submitting an employee’s information to a different security clearance agency or to the same agency for the purpose of upgrading an individual’s security clearance (e.g. from Secret to Top Secret). Sometimes the employee is made aware of the requested clearance upgrade and sometimes they are not. The issue is that a person can be approved for a lower level security clearance, but when they are submitted for the clearance upgrade they can be denied, even if there are no new security concerns at issue. The denial can then potentially impact their existing security clearance.
The Clearance Upgrade Issue
When a person is submitted for a security clearance upgrade, any previously existing security concerns are scrutinized more thoroughly. For instance, if a person has been previously approved for a Secret level clearance, and is then submitted for a Top Secret level clearance, they could be denied based on the same concerns that existed when they were approved for a Secret clearance. This more often comes up where the person holds a Top Secret clearance but is applying for Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) access, “TS/SCI.”
For example, suppose an individual is approved for a Top Secret security clearance by the Department of Defense, after mitigating some security concerns about past due debts or bad credit, but is then submitted for SCI access at an intelligence agency. The intelligence agency may consider those debts more serious than the agency that adjudicated the underlying security clearance and then deny access to SCI based on the same financial issues that were first resolved favorably when the person applied for their Top Secret clearance. This denial can potentially have significant consequences.
Upgrade Denial Can Impact Current Clearance
The result of a security clearance upgrade denial will be that the individual will likely have to list this denial in future clearance applications. Additionally, the denial could potentially cause the individual to lose (or have to defend) their existing security clearance. Depending on the employer and federal agency involved, there are appeals processes to challenge the upgrade denial, but it is something for an individual to seriously consider if there are security concerns in one’s background and a clearance upgrade is proposed or considered. It is often the case that seeking a clearance upgrade is optional for an employee. Thus, serious consideration should be given to whether or not any older security concerns were an issue during the individual's last clearance investigation or if new security issues have since arisen when considering whether to take the next step in pursuing a clearance upgrade. Taking time to consider these issues, in advance, can be very important.
It is important to consider the impact of upgrading a security clearance or security access before applying when there are previous security concerns at issue. An individual should consult with a security clearance attorney if they have any security concerns at issue that could pose potential issues. If you need assistance with a security clearance matter, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or on Twitter.
By John V. Berry, www.berrylegal.com
Suitability determinations are an increasingly important issue for federal government applicants and federal employees. The process of successfully navigating suitability concerns has at the same time become more complex due to the ever increasing security concerns of the United States Government. Our firm serves as suitability lawyers for federal employees and applicants who encounter difficulties in the suitability process.
What is Suitability?
Federal employment positions often include important duties that do not require a security clearance but are sensitive in nature. Hence, a suitability or background investigation is required in order to hold the position. For instance, included in these types of positions are certain types of federal law enforcement officers, IT professionals, comptrollers, and public safety and health workers. These positions are often referred to as public trust positions. They are subject to background investigations, which include a National Agency Check and Inquiries (NACI) review, and potential personal interview and reference checks.
Public Trust/Suitability Investigations
The first step in a suitability, background or public trust investigation often comes from an individual’s completion of the SF-85 (Questionnaire for Non-Sensitive Positions), SF-85P (Questionnaire for Public Trust Positions) and even occasionally an SF-86 (usually used for secret level clearances). The investigation can also include follow up information requests (interrogatories) and/or interviews regarding areas of concern.
Areas of Suitability Concern
When making suitability concerns, under 5 C.F.R. § 731.202, an agency or OPM will consider:
(1) Misconduct or negligence in employment;
(2) Criminal or dishonest conduct;
(3) Intentional false statements, deception, fraud;
(4) Refusal to furnish testimony;
(5) Alcohol abuse, without evidence of rehabilitation;
(6) Illegal use of narcotics, drugs or other controlled substances, without evidence of rehabilitation;
(7) Knowing and willful engaged in acts designed to over the U.S. Government by force; and
(8) Any statutory or regulatory bar that prevents the lawful employment of the person at issue.
Initial Response to Suitability Issues
Should background security issues not be resolved during the investigation, a federal agency and/or the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) can take what is known as a suitability action. Suitability actions are governed by federal regulations at 5 C.F.R. Part 731 and are taken when an employee or applicant is deemed to be unsuitable. During suitability actions, a federal applicant or employee will be given notice of the suitability issues and be given an opportunity to respond to these issues. The goal of a response is to mitigate or show that the allegations are not warranted.
Under 5 C.F.R. § 731.202 (a) and (b), federal agencies and OPM must consider the following considerations in mitigating suitability concerns:
(1) The nature of the position that the individual is applying for or is employed;
(2) The nature and seriousness of the conduct;
(3) The circumstances surrounding the conduct;
(4) The recency of the conduct;
(5) The age and maturity of the person involved at the time of the conduct;
(6) Contributing societal conditions; and
(7) The absence or present or rehabilitation or efforts towards rehabilitation.
An applicant or employee will normally be provided the opportunity to respond to the suitability concerns within a short period of time, often 30 days. In that response, it is critical to seriously rebut the allegations at issue. This can often include providing documentation rebutting the allegations, and character affidavits and/or declarations. If a suitability action is sustained, then an appeal is needed.
If an applicant is deemed unsuitable, depending on their federal employer they may be able to appeal the suitability denial to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB must find that the suitability allegations against the federal employee or applicant can be shown by a preponderance of the evidence. If the federal employee or applicant is successful in rebutting all allegations made, the matter must be remanded to OPM or the agency for a determination as to whether the original action was appropriate.
When an individual is facing suitability issues or a suitability appeal it is important to obtain legal advice and legal representation. Our attorneys can advise employees on areas of the SF-85, SF-85P and SF-86 or other related suitability documentation that require additional care and attention. We can be contacted at www.berrylegal.com or by telephone at (703) 668-0070. Our Facebook page is located at http://facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.
By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com
As we have mentioned in other articles, the U.S. Government security clearance process is not centralized and varies somewhat between federal agencies. In addition to security clearances processed by the Department of Defense (DOD), other federal agencies have their own procedures and personnel that process their own security clearance decisions for federal employees and government contractors (e.g. DOS, DHS, DOI, NGA, DOE, NRO, CIA, etc). The National Security Agency (NSA) is an agency with its own security clearance process. This article addresses the security clearance process at the NSA for security clearances and Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) access.
The Clearance Process at NSA
The security clearance process at NSA is somewhat similar to the procedures for DOD employees, but there are some differences. The NSA follows the intelligence agency policies regarding the processing of security clearances and SCI access. These policies are referred to in the Intelligence Community Policy Guidance (ICPG). The following are the normal steps in the security clearance review process for NSA clearance holders or applicants when they are confronted with security clearance issues.
Step 1: Revocation / Denial Letter
When a federal, military or contractor employee has a security clearance or SCI access issue with NSA, they will receive a revocation or denial letter from the NSA, listing the background and security concerns at issue. The background will list the specific security concerns at issue. The individual will usually then be given 45 days in which to request a review of the security concerns and respond to the security concerns. The investigative file, upon which the denial is based, will usually be included as well to facilitate a response by the individual. The investigative file will usually include reports and/or other items relevant to the security concerns.
Step 2: Responding to the Revocation / Denial Letter
At this stage, the individual responds to the revocation or denial letter from the NSA. A response should address the security concerns at issues, e.g. Guideline E, Personal Conduct, or other issues and focus on the potential mitigation of the security concerns. It is important to provide documentation, such as declarations, affidavits, and other documentation relevant to the security concerns at issue.
Step 3: Decision by Office of Personnel Security on First Appeal Review
Once the appeal by the individual is received, the NSA Office of Security will issue a decision as to whether or not the security concerns have been dismissed or mitigated. If so, the matter is then resolved. If not, the individual will be provided a decision, usually a page or two in length, discussing the reasons why the First Appeal was denied and of the right to a final appeal. The First Appeal may indicate that some of the items have been mitigated, but that others have not been.
Step 4: Review by NSA Access Appeals Panel
The next step in the NSA security clearance process is for the employee to appeal to the NSA Access Appeals Panel. This is an in person appeal where the individual can be represented by counsel in presenting evidence and argument as to why the security clearance or SCI access decision should be overturned. During this personal appearance before the Access Appeals Panel, the individual can present documents in support of keeping their security clearance to the panel.
Step 5: NSA Access Appeals Panel Decision
Following the personal appearance, the NSA Appeals Panel issues a decision, either granting the clearance or access at issue or a denial. There is also the process of re-applying for a clearance after a waiting period following a denial.
When an individual is facing security clearance issues at NSA or in another organization it is important to obtain legal advice and potential representation. Our law firm advises 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 at http://facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.
By John V. Berry, www.berrylegal.com
The "Whole-Person Concept" in security clearance cases is not well understood. As background, in security clearance cases, there are generally two parts to a clearance appeal: (1) responding to the security concerns at issue (individual disqualifying and mitigating factors) and (2) overall mitigation. Overall mitigation is most often used when the security issues are true or partially true, but an individual is arguing that the concerns should not bar them from the ability to retain or obtain a security clearance.
What is the Whole-Person Concept?
General mitigation is usually referred to as the Whole-Person Concept in security clearance cases. This Whole-Person Concept evaluation focuses on whether the individual, even with security concerns, is an acceptable security risk. The determination calls for determination based on the all of the facts relevant to the person at issue. Under the Whole-Person Concept, a clearance adjudicator (the government official reviewing the security clearance case) evaluates an individual’s eligibility for a security clearance by considering the “totality” of his or her conduct and all relevant circumstances. There are 9 factors that are reviewed based on the Department of Defense (DoD) Adjudicative Guidelines:
1. the nature, extent, and seriousness of the conduct;
2. the circumstances surrounding the conduct, to include knowledgeable participation;
3. the frequency and recency of the conduct;
4. the individual’s age and maturity at the time of the conduct;
5. the extent to which participation is voluntary;
6. the presence or absence of rehabilitation and other permanent behavioral changes;
7. the motivation for the conduct;
8. the potential for pressure, coercion, exploitation, or duress; and
9. the likelihood of continuation or recurrence.
Under these Adjudicative Guidelines, the final determination of whether to grant eligibility for a security clearance is “an overall commonsense judgment” based on both the merits of the security issues and a review of the Whole-Person Concept. While only 9 factors are mentioned in the cases (e.g. at page 8) other factors are also considered but not mentioned. We find that the Whole-Person Concept is often best used to describe the individual’s character, positive work history and record, community involvement and other factors that help to show that the individual’s record merits a commonsense judgment for keeping or retaining his or her security clearance. Many of these generalizes concerns can fall under Factor 9.
As an example, take the case of an individual who holds a Secret security clearance and has been convicted of a minor criminal offense (i.e. assault). As a result of the issue, security concerns are then raised and the individual’s security clearance is potentially placed at risk. In addition to addressing the issues involving the criminal charge, the person would likely need to present evidence of good character (e.g., letters from supervisors, friends, and family), good or outstanding performance at work, military service, and/or community/charity involvement. Evidence of prior public service, accomplishments or commendations can also be helpful under the Whole-Person Concept. Generally, we find that security clearance holders are not provided information from the government or security officers about how to use the Whole-Person Concept to assist them in resolving security clearance concerns.
In sum, the Whole-Person Concept is the part of the security clearance case where an individual gets to argue that notwithstanding the security issues that the person is still an acceptable security risk based on their life and record.
By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com
On May 12, 2016, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued the first government policy on the federal government’s use of social media when evaluating background investigations and security clearances for federal employees and government contractors. The policy is known as Security Executive Agent Directive 5, which will have a major impact on the review of social media information in the context of security clearance investigations.
Security Executive Agent Directive 5
Security Executive Agent Directive 5 does not require that security clearance decisions necessarily consider social media information, but instead permits the collection of “publicly” available social media information if an agency official determines it to be a useful tool for security clearance investigations. From experience, it is extremely likely that most, if not all, agency officials will find such information to be a necessary tool for security clearance investigations in the future given how significant social media has become in our society. While the new policy does not require the collection of non-publicly available social media information, it is possible that such information could be required in future policies governing security clearance investigations, especially for individuals with top secret clearances or special access. For now, however, security clearance investigators are only reviewing publicly available social media information under the new policy. Information that is protected by appropriate privacy settings will not be reviewed by security clearance investigators.
Furthermore, unless there is a national security concern or an additional criminal reporting requirement, information uncovered as a result of a review of an applicant’s publicly available social media information that involves other individuals or groups will not be pursued. Security clearance investigators are also restricted from requesting or requiring individuals to provide their social media passwords or requiring individuals to log on to their private social media accounts to disclose non-publicly available information. The new policy also bars security clearance investigators or agencies from creating or using social media accounts to “Friend” or “Follow” the individual who is under investigation. The new directive is the first major policy by the government in incorporating social media into security clearance investigations, but it is likely that the scope of the information sought will increase in future policies.
We represent individuals in security clearance matters. If you need assistance with a security clearance matter, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.
By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com
Financial considerations security concerns are the most common issues that can result in the loss of, or inability to obtain, a security clearance. It is critical that when an individual runs into financial issues that they have counsel to assist and advise them with respect to the security clearance process. In security clearance cases, financial issues are generally referred to as Guideline F cases. In Guideline F cases, the government’s concern is generally focused on how a person has handled his or her finances and/or his or her vulnerability to financial manipulation given a pattern of overspending or debt. In one of our most recent articles, we mentioned that 3/4 of recent security clearance cases involving a financial consideration issue.
The following are some 7 tips to help minimize the risk of losing a security clearance involving financial considerations:
1. Pay your bills. Most security clearance clients seek our assistance when they have multiple bills that are past due, delinquent, in collections, or have been charged off. In Guideline F cases, the existence of multiple, unpaid debts seems to be the most typical reason for the loss or denial of a security clearance. It is important to gain control of your finances in such situations in order to attempt to keep your security clearance.
2. Pay/File your taxes. Individuals in tax trouble or who fail to pay and/or file their taxes risk losing their clearance. These tax issues tend to be viewed as more significant for security clearance purposes than regular debts. If outstanding taxes or tax liens are too much for the individual to pay off all at once, it is important to try to work out a plan with the IRS or state tax agency and show good faith towards resolving these debts in order to keep or obtain a security clearance. The government takes a very skeptical view of a clearance holder or applicant that has not resolved their taxes.
3. Monitor your credit report. Often times, an individual has encountered difficulties in the security clearance process because incorrect information is listed on his or her credit reports. In our experience, errors can be common, but can also lead to security clearance issues raised by the Government. It is important for an individual applying for or holding a security clearance to keep a close eye on his or her credit report for errors and potential problems. If a debt is inaccurate, it is important for an individual to dispute the debt as soon as possible and keep records of all disputes and efforts to demonstrate that a debt does not belong to an individual.
4. Do not run up significant debts and/or live beyond your means. Having too many debts can put an individual at risk of losing a security clearance. To the government, this can indicate that the individual is living beyond his or her means.
5. Work with creditors to attempt to resolve unpaid debts. It is always better for an individual to get ahead of his or her credit problems than to wait until he or she receives notice of a possible denial of a security clearance. An individual who recognizes a debt problem and works towards resolving it early and before a clearance issue is raised tends to be given more credit towards the granting of the clearance as opposed to an individual who starts the process after he or she receives notice of the potential loss of the clearance. Even if a creditor is non-responsive, it is important to try multiple times to communicate with the creditor in an effort to resolve these issues.
6. Consider credit counseling/ credit classes. If an individual falls behind in his or her debts, it is still important to show how that individual is working to get back on a healthy financial track in order to alleviate concerns about the individual’s ability to hold a security clearance. Taking meaningful credit classes or engaging in credit counseling can help mitigate security concerns by showing affirmative steps taken by an individual to get better control over his or her finances.
7. Report potential issues to security officer/investigator. If and when major financial issues arise, it can be important to report them, in advance, to an individual's security officer. Doing so in appropriate situations can be evidence of mitigation for security concerns.
When facing financial consideration security concerns it is important to have the assistance and advice of counsel. We represent individuals in security clearance and other employment matters. If you need assistance with a security clearance issue, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on our Facebook page.
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):
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.