Federal employees sometimes must obtain security clearances to continue their employment or start a new position in the federal government. This process can vary depending upon where the employee will work and/or the nature of the work they’ll do.
Passing a government security clearance isn’t always easy and certainly isn’t to be taken for granted. A denial could be issued for a number of reasons, but it doesn’t mean the process has to end there. A security clearance denial can be appealed, but it involves its own complicated legal process.
We’ll provide an overview of how an appeal for a security clearance denial works below (particularly when dealing with the Department of Defense Consolidated Adjudications Facility) but keep in mind this is just to give you a general idea of how it could work in your situation.
The federal government is complex, so details of the appeals process can vary among agencies. By no means should you try to use this information as a roadmap for your appeal or as a substitute for professional legal representation that can address your unique situation.
Security Clearance Appeals for Federal Employees
For federal employees, receiving a Letter of Intent to Deny a Security Clearance along with a Statement of Reasons (SOR) is the beginning of the appeal process. Those who wish to pursue the appeal must notify the appropriate government agency of their intent to respond to the SOR and request copies of any documents or records that factored into the agency’s decision to deny clearance.
Subsequently, the employee will send a written response to the SOR or federal agency that denied a security clearance. Upon receipt of the employee’s response, clearance can be granted if a clearance adjudicator agrees with the employee, a request for more information may be issued to further investigate the matter, or clearance will be formally denied.
If clearance is not granted, then the federal employee can request an appeal of the adverse security clearance decision. This elevates the appeal process to a point where a hearing conducted by an administrative judge can be requested.
The Administrative Hearing
An administrative hearing is similar to a criminal or civil case where evidence and witnesses can be called and cross-examined, but overall, it’s a procedure that most people are entirely unfamiliar with. It’s for this reason that legal counsel who has a lot of experience in administrative courts should be retained to advocate for the employee.
Unlike other judicial procedures, an administrative judge’s decision is a recommendation sent to the Personnel Security Appeals Board (PSAB) of the employee’s respective agency. The PSAB will probably consist of three members who will review the record of the hearing and judge’s decision, then issue a final decision that can ultimately approve or deny security clearance.
Do You Need Help with a Security Clearance Appeal?
As you should consider hiring legal representation to assist you with your initial security clearance application, you should do the same if you need to appeal a denial. As you have read, this can be a complicated and sensitive legal matter that can affect your current or future job opportunities with the federal government.
If you were denied a security clearance or had yours revoked, reach out to Claery & Hammond, LLP to learn more about how we can help.