Security Clearance Investigations
The U.S. Government conducts background investigations and reinvestigations of individuals under consideration for a security clearance or for the retention of their security clearance in national security positions. Applying for a security clearance requires an employee to undergo a comprehensive background investigation into all aspects of his or her personal and professional history. The investigation includes interviewing the applicant, checking state and federal criminal databases, and interviewing other persons. An employee’s full cooperation with all aspects of the investigation is a requirement in order for him or her to obtain a security clearance.
If a federal employee or government contractor employee’s initial application is denied, or his or her existing security clearance is revoked or suspended, he or she will be issued a Statement of Reasons (SOR) or will be provided a notice which outlines the reasons why the security clearance was not granted or continued. When the Defense Security Service (DSS), the individual’s federal agency security office, or the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) denies an employee’s security clearance, there are procedures or provisions that allow the employee or government contractor employee to appeal the decision, such as a hearing (often referred to as a personal appearance) before the employing agency or the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) to adjudicate his or her security clearance matter.
Federal employees have the right to appear in person before an administrative judge in a hearing (or other clearance adjudicator) and respond to the allegations in the SOR. Following such a hearing or personal appearance, the administrative judge or adjudicator will issue a recommended decision to the federal agency’s personnel security appeals board (PSAB), which will issue the final determination on the federal employee’s security clearance. Government contractor employees in DoD cases have the right to a hearing before a DOHA judge. In cases involving DoD government contractors, the administrative judge will issue the initial ruling as to whether the security clearance is granted. A contractor then has a right to appeal an adverse decision to the DOHA Appeal Board.