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Sitting close to the central hub of the United States Federal government, many Northern Virginia, Maryland, and DC workers require a security clearance as part of their employment. Whether you are a government contractor employee, members of the armed services or civil servant, maintaining a security clearance could mean the difference between maintaining your job and source of income or losing it. At the Pickett Law Group PLLC, our group of attorneys has experience in helping federal workers obtain and keep their security clearances. Below we have outlined some of the common situations which can threaten a security clearance as well as the process of what to expect. 

Situations That Can Threaten Your Security Clearance 

There are a whole host of circumstances which can threaten an individual's security clearance. Circumstances such as bankruptcy, foreign influences, immigration status, DUI arrest, or other criminal charges can impact an employee's eligibility for a security clearance or cause an individual's security clearance to be revoked. In general, the reasons a clearance is denied or revoked may be related to the following areas:

  • Allegiance to the U.S. Foreign Influence

  • Foreign Preference

  • Sexual Behavior

  • Personal Conduct

  • Financial Considerations

  • Alcohol Consumption

  • Drug Involvement

  • Psychological Conditions

  • Criminal Conduct

  • Handling Protected Information

  • Outside Activities

  • Use of IT Systems

The Process 

A security clearance investigation  is completed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The investigative file is called a Report For Adjudication (RFA) and is sent to the Industry Division of the DOD Consolidated Adjudications Facility (DOD CAF).  If the RFA is for a Secret clearance, the RFA can be favorably adjudicated by computer (eAdjudication) and the clearance can be granted without any further review if it does not contain any potentially disqualifying information. On the other hand, if the RFA contains potentially disqualifying information, the case is assigned to a DOD CAF staff adjudicator. RFA's for Top Secret clearances are sent to DOD CAF staff adjudicators as well. 

Once an adjudicators has sufficient information to make a clearance decision, they will either grant the clearance or write a Statement of Reasons (SOR), explaining why granting a clearance is not “clearly consistent with the interests of national security.” This SOR is a preliminary decision to deny or revoke a clearance.  Therefore, it’s sent to the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) for review and approval, before it’s sent to the applicant.

Hiring an Experienced Lawyer to Respond to the SOR

There is a very short window to responding to a SOR. This means it's critical to hire an experienced security clearance lawyer to assist in your response right away. This may be your only chance to rebut the SOR and obtain a clearance. Specifically, you are required to submit a written response to the SOR within 20 days of the date you sign for it.  Failure to do so will result in your clearance being denied or revoked without further consideration.  If you need extra time to write your SOR response, it’s possible to request and obtain a 20-day extension. 

Successfully Responding to a SOR

To have any chance of successfully responding and refuting a SOR, the response must be detailed and comprehensive. Including supporting documents is always critical to successfully refuting or mitigating allegations. Specifically, attaching letters of recommendation attesting to your judgment, reliability and trustworthiness from people who know you well and including documents that show professional achievements, community involvement, honorable military service, etc. are all factors that can favorably influence a “Whole-Person” assessment in your case. 


How We Can Help

The Pickett Law Group, PLLC is an experienced law firm with two generations of former prosecutors and attorneys with experience in successfully responding to SOR's and keeping the security clearances of clients. Due to the quick deadlines in SOR cases, it's critical to get an attorney involved as fast as possible. This will allow us to quickly obtain the investigative file from OPM and draft a comprehensive and successful response to any SOR. 

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