Holding and maintaining a security clearance is an important requirement for military personnel, government contractors, and federal employees who rely on their security clearance to support customers on military bases or through government products and services. The number of individuals needing a security clearance has increased dramatically in the last 20 years as government projects have grown and the military has moved to privatize some of its work force. In many cases, losing a security clearance can cost an individual both their job and their ability to work at a company or in an industry.
At Berry Law, a Veteran owned and operated law firm, we understand the importance of having the security clearance you need. Whether you are applying for a security clearance, fighting a revocation, or need help appealing a denial, Berry Law’s team of security clearance lawyers can help you in all stages of the clearance process.
Contact us online today to schedule your free, confidential consultation with a security clearance lawyer.
Security Clearance Process
The time it takes to gain a security clearance varies, generally ranging from 30 days to one year. Previously holding an expired security clearance does not speed up the application process, as a new investigation will have to be done. To speed up the application process, you need to ensure that the information on the application is correct and everything is filled in, especially Zip Codes, as these can delay an investigation by days or even weeks. There are three phases to the clearance application process: application, investigation, and adjudication. Most delays happen during the investigation phase, such as missing information or the applicant not being available for an interview, which is one of the most important steps in the process. The DoD grants security clearances by assessing many different Adjudication Guidelines. The 13
Adjudication Guidelines are:
- Allegiance to the United States
- Foreign Influence
- Foreign Preference
- Sexual Behavior
- Personal Conduct
- Financial Considerations
- Alcohol Consumption
- Drug Involvement
- Psychological Conditions
- Criminal Conduct
- Handling Protected Information
- Outside Activities
- Misuse of Information Technology
- Security Clearance Revocation
After clearance is granted, the process is not complete. Security clearances can be revoked at any time for a variety of reasons that may or may not relate to your ability to handle sensitive information. These revocations can be the result of anything from a credit check to a reference interview. If your security clearance was revoked for any reason, our team of security clearance lawyers can help you fight your revocation.
Starting in 2018, the Department of Defense is moving toward a rolling review process of security clearances. While a SECRET Clearance is nominally valid for 10 years, and a TOP SECRET Clearance valid for 5 years, the DoD is now making efforts to perform continuous reviews of clearances which means that there is increased risk of a clearance being revoked during the middle of an approved period.
Statement of Reasons
Once your security clearance is denied or revoked, you will be issued a Statement of Reasons (SOR) that details the reasons why your security clearance has been denied or revoked. Once you receive a Statement of Reasons, you have 20 days to issue a written rebuttal to DOHA. If more time is needed, you can request a 20-day extension. If a written response is not received within the timeframe, the security clearance will stay denied or revoked without further consideration. If you submit a written response, you will be sent a File of Relevant Information. You will have 30 days to supply a detailed and extensive written response explaining why your revocation or denial was a mistake. The response you provide is very important, and an experienced security clearance lawyer can help you create the ideal rebuttal.
Reinvestigations are set to occur once every 15 years for confidential, once every 10 years for secret, and once every 5 years for top secret. There are many different types of investigations that may occur, including:
- Tier 3 Investigation
- Tier 3R Investigation
- SSBI (Single Scope Background Investigation
- SSBI-PR (Single Scope Background Investigation – Periodic Reinvestigation)
- PPR (Phased Periodic Reinvestigation)
- Tier 5R Investigation
- Cyber Vetting
- Reimbursable Suitability Investigation (RSI)
- Trustworthiness Investigation
- Federal Employment Fitness Investigation
Investigations will soon be continuously conducted, diving into current financial status, keeping up with criminal background checks, and monitoring social media posts. This can cause many problems for individuals whose careers rely on the ability to have access to secure information. As an additional complication, the process of appealing a security clearance revocation or denial can take over a year. Our team of security clearance lawyers can help you cut through the process and get the clearance level you need.
Appealing a Security Clearance Denial
The top historical reasons for denial are financial considerations, personal conduct, foreign preference, and criminal conduct, with financial considerations being the top issue, accounting for more than 50% of the denials. Understanding the steps to take after a denial or revocation and the underlying reasons behind the judgment can help your chances of appealing the DOHA Administrative Judge’s decision. You are given two chances to appeal your case in front of a judge. Your first opportunity will be at an appeal hearing. Here, you will be given an opportunity to provide reasoning and statements as to why you should not have been denied. You are allowed to have a federal attorney at this hearing, and Berry Law Firm has attorneys who can help represent you. If your case is denied, you will be given one final chance to appeal the judge’s decision within 45 days, and can again retain legal counsel. Any decisions made at this step are final, and the costs of losing the appeals process can be substantial if you rely on a security clearance for your work.
Contact Our Security Clearance Defense Team Today
Berry Law Firm proudly provides aggressive and effective legal counsel to clients looking to gain the security clearance level they need. We have experience in all state and federal courts, including military courts. Due to the importance of these security clearance appeals, it can be vital that you get the best legal representation on your side. Our team of attorneys has extensive experience on the battlefield and courtroom alike.