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Philadelphia and Washington DC Security Clearance Blog

Appealing a security clearance denial

Numerous jobs require Pennsylvania residents to handle sensitive or classified information either in a position with the federal government or in a position with a federal contractor. Many of those positions require a security clearance. For those who receive a letter from the Department of Defense denying such a clearance, it may help to know that it may be possible to appeal that decision.

In many instances, a statement of reason accompanies a denial letter. It provides the reasons why the DOD decided not to grant an individual a clearance. Sometimes, the reasons for the denial provide a reason for an appeal. It may be possible to clear up any misunderstandings or inaccuracies through an appeal.

Reporting requirements for security clearances has changed

As Pennsylvania residents live their lives, the potential is always there to make mistakes. For those with security clearances, those mistakes could possibly affect whether they can do their jobs. Up to this point, background checks only took place at certain intervals, but that recently changed.

For those with secret clearances, a background investigation used to be conducted every 10 years, and for those with top secret clearances, one was done only every five years. This still occurs, but now, the Department of Defense recently decided that clearances should be evaluated on a continuous basis through a new Continuous Evaluation Program. This means that Pennsylvania residents with clearances now need to report any issues that could affect them when they occur.

The different levels of security clearances

A large number of federal jobs require employees to handle sensitive information. This means that they will need to obtain security clearances in order to perform their job duties whether they work here in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. More often than not, a job description will dictate the level of clearance an individual applicant will need.

Government employees with a confidential security clearance see information that could harm national security if revealed. Those with secret level clearances have significantly more access to such information. If this information is disclosed, it could result in serious harm to national security since people with this clearance may have access to information regarding covert employees, people that covert employees are affiliated with and communications with foreign governments.

How security clearances and military justice intersect

No matter what branch of the U.S. Armed Forces you serve in, your military occupational specialty code or Air Force specialty code probably puts you in a position to be around, use and protect classified information. In fact, most military occupations require a minimum clearance in order to do your job. You may want to understand how security clearances and military justice intersect since even being falsely accused of wrongdoing could jeopardize your clearance and your military career whether you serve here in Pennsylvania or elsewhere.

Your status in the military may not change depending on the circumstances, but if you can no longer hold a security clearance because of what happened, you could end up losing your job and your career. You may think you can shrug off a minor administrative punishment without experiencing any backlash, but you may be wrong. Depending on your clearance level, even being under investigation can cost you, even if you do not end up meeting with some form of disciplinary action or punishment.

Is the security clearance process broken?

Although the system is designed to protect national security, it’s an open secret that the process of obtaining a security clearance is difficult to understand. While some people are approved quickly, others with similar backgrounds are caught in clearance limbo for months without explanation. Why is the system like this and how could it improve?

Security clearance system deemed broken

Obtaining help with security clearances and appeals

Job hunting can be a stressful and frustrating process. When you receive an offer for a position you want, you may want to breathe a sigh of relief. However, if that job is with the federal government, you may still have yet another step to complete before the job is truly yours if your position requires a security clearance. Even if you feel you have lived a law-abiding and boring life, you may be nervous about the process. You may want to take the same step as other Pennsylvania residents before you who obtained help with their security clearances and appeals so that they could begin their careers in public service.

Since your position may require you to access classified information, the government wants to ensure that you have the appropriate character, morals and trustworthiness. You must also have the ability to be discreet and keep national secrets. In order to determine this, the government begins a background check that delves into your life up to this point. 

How to respond to an SOR security denial letter

In a previous post, we discussed steps for appealing a denial of security clearance. This was very high-level information offering some general guidance on how to go about rebutting the findings that led to the determination.

Those with experience in this area would agree that one key to a successful response is to be sure that every item in the Statement of Reasons for Denial letter listing why the determination was made is addressed. In this post, we aim to offer more detail on what to include in an SOR response.

Appealing denial of a security clearance

If you have recently received a Letter of Intent (LOI) from the Department of Defense or State, it means that your security clearance request is being considered for denial. It hasn’t been formally denied yet, but the groundwork is being laid to do that.

It is important that you act immediately to address the concerns raised. Once a full denial has been issued, it is very difficult to apply for clearance again. The process is involved and complicated, but it can be navigated successfully with the help of a professional who has experience in the process.

Security clearance threshold under scrutiny

If you have a national security clearance or are hoping to obtain one, you are probably aware of the seemingly rigorous background check you must go through. A variety of factors are considered to establish your trustworthiness in handling sensitive information on behalf of the U.S. government, and a few factors are coming under increased scrutiny recently.

Financial trouble can lead to increased scrutiny

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