Friday, April 5, 2013

What Happens When Security Clearances are Denied

When an employee or potential employee is considered for a security clearance, the employer or sponsor requests a security clearance investigation. An investigation is performed to look into a person’s past and present to gather information. This information is evaluated to determine if the subject can be entrusted with sensitive information. CONFIDENTIAL and SECRET security clearances result in favorable determinations based on a National Agency Check with Law and Credit investigation and for TOP SECRET, the Single Scope Background Investigation.

The security clearance request process is finalized during the adjudication period. Here, decisions are made whether or not to grant a clearance based on investigation results as related to the whole person concept and in the best interest of national security. The adjudicator evaluates results to determine whether or not an applicant is suited to protect classified information.

There are 13 categories of behavior that could prevent a person from getting a clearance or prevent the continuance of a current clearance. Simply, the adjudicator evaluates at the investigation results and makes a decision. If there are indications that it is NOT in the best interest of national security grant a clearance, then a clearance will be denied or revoked.
Sometimes mistakes happen and investigations don’t provide a complete “whole person” profile. So, what can a person do when they have been denied or has had a security clearance revoked?

Executive Order 10865 provides a process that allows an employee the opportunity to appeal or turn around unfavorable security clearance adjudication. Where there was no earlier process or consistency in policy, this order provided standards for addressing security clearance denials or revocations.

Going back to the decision making stage, the adjudicator reviews the investigation and focuses on thirteen criteria. The goal is to determine whether or not an applicant can be trustworthy to adequately protect classified information. Here are the 13 topics:
  1. Allegiance to the United States
  2. Foreign influence
  3.  Foreign preference
  4. Sexual behavior
  5. Personal conduct
  6. Financial considerations
  7. Alcohol consumption
  8. Drug involvement
  9. Emotional, mental, and personality disorders
  10. Criminal conduct
  11. Security violations
  12. Outside activities
  13.  Misuse of Information Technology Systems
The adjudicator will consider the whole person concept. In other words, if the subject has violated one or more of the criteria, they may still be able to get their clearance. The adjudicator considers all mitigating circumstances before making a final decision. The circumstances include the following and are compared to each of the 13 topics:

  • The nature, extent, and seriousness of the conduct
  • The circumstances surrounding the conduct, to include knowledgeable participation
  • The frequency and the time elapsed since the conduct
  • The individual's age and maturity at the time of the conduct
  • The willingness to participate
So, what happens when the adjudicator considers all available information and denies or revokes a clearance?
The applicant can appeal. Perhaps all the information wasn’t provided, the investigation missed some mitigating circumstances. The applicant did not provide enough information or other oversight or omission occurred. If so, the applicant has another chance to present their case.

The process allows the applicant to go to court or have an administrative judge make a decision. In both cases, the adjudicator and applicant can present their cases for a judge’s decision. The judge will make a determination based on what is best for national security.

For those currently holding clearances, undergoing investigations or considering working in an industry where background investigations are conducted, act accordingly. If it is necessary to explain or mitigate questionable past or current behavior, gather information, witnesses and evidence that will support a decision to grant the clearance. The final decision will be made in the interest of national security and the applicant influence that decision.

Jeffrey W. Bennett, ISP is the owner of Red Bike Publishing Red Bike Publishing . Jeff is an accomplished writer of non-fiction books, novels and periodicals. He also owns Red bike Publishing. Published books include: "Get Rich in a Niche-Insider's Guide to Self Publishing in a Specialized Industry" and "Commitment-A Novel". Jeff is an expert in security and has written many security books including: "Insider's Guide to Security Clearances" and "DoD Security Clearances and Contracts Guidebook", "ISP Certification-The Industrial Security Professional Exam Manual", and NISPOM/FSO Training" See Red Bike Publishing for print copies of: Army Leadership, The Ranger Handbook, The Army Physical Readiness Manual, Drill and Ceremonies, The ITAR,and The NISPOM

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