Seeking Information Regarding Security Clearance Incident Reports
October 15, 2013
Government contractors and federal employees can often encounter a number of problems in attempting to resolve Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) Incident Reports. Incident Reports arise when a current employer, former employer, or other third party notifies JPAS of a security concern. JPAS is a computerized database, which is maintained by the Department of Defense (DoD), that processes information related to individual eligibility for security clearance and access. JPAS maintains Incident Reports that contain alleged security concerns that need to be resolved for continued access to classified information.
Security Incident Records – Obtaining Relevant Information from the Government
It is critical to find out the nature of an existing security concern before an individual can begin to address it in a security clearance context. Typically, an individual first becomes aware of an existing Incident Report when he or she applies for a new employment position. The scenario plays out as follows: The new employer informs an individual that there is an outstanding security concern that needs to be addressed in order for him or her to keep his or her new position, but the individual may or may not have an idea about the nature of the allegations affecting his or her security clearance processing and sometimes may not be aware of who filed the Incident Report.
Therefore, the first step that we generally recommend for government contractors and federal employees is to formally request a copy of all documents in an individual’s security documents, which can include JPAS Incident Reports, prior security clearance background reports, adjudication summaries, investigation histories, and a host of other information related to an individual’s security clearance history.
In order to obtain this information, we utilize both the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552 on behalf of our individual clients. These requests must be formatted properly and submitted sometimes to multiple government entities. In addition, some document requests must be formatted properly before the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) or DoD will respond.
Government Responses to Security Clearance Information Requests
The government’s response to a document request will be based, in large part, on how well (e.g., specific, complete, detailed) the document request is prepared. Responses to information requests will also vary. Typically, the most important information that can be requested is a copy of the existing Incident Report. The Incident Report will provide the basic details about the security incident at issue. An Incident Report summary will generally provide the incident date, the receiving DoD Central Adjudication Facility (CAF) and the CAF date of receipt, in addition to the incident criteria such as the general security concern categories (e.g., personal conduct, financial considerations).
Of major importance is the fact that the Incident Report will also provide an unclassified description of the security issue that will uncover the basis for the action. Often times, an individual can uncover an error that has been made in the reporting of the security incident.
In addition to the Incident Report, other information that may be provided in response to the Privacy Act request can include a Person, Investigative and Adjudicative Summary report. Contained in this type of information request response will also likely be a Message History report, which itemizes the actions taken regarding the adjudication of the individual’s security clearance. These documents can be helpful to determine progress regarding a security investigation and when issues have been adjudicated.
When facing an existing Incident Report it is important to obtain the advice of counsel in evaluating your options. There are a number of steps that need to be taken in order to begin the process of attempting to uncover the basis for an Incident Report and to attempt to begin to resolve the issues involved. Berry & Berry, PLLC stands ready to advise individuals on these types of security clearance issues. Please contact us at (703) 668-0070 or www.berrylegal.com to schedule an initial consultation.