What happens when a security clearance is denied


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When a case contains significant unmitigated derogatory information, the adjudicator issues a “Letter of Intent” (LOI) to deny a clearance. The LOI is a preliminary, tentative decision and will contain a “ Statement of Reasons” (SOR) detailing the issues that are the basis of the decision. Some agencies issue a Letter of Denial with an SOR, but it is essentially the same as an LOI. The LOI contains instructions on how to request a copy of the investigative file on which the decision to issue the LOI was based.

Federal contractor personnel can submit a written rebuttal to the SOR and request a hearing. If the applicant doesn’t submit a rebuttal to the SOR, DoD CAF will deny the clearance. If the applicant rebuts the SOR without hearing, DOHA sends the applicant a File of Relevant Material (FORM) that will be presented to an Administrative Judge (AJ) for a clearance decision based on the written record. The applicant can submit a written response to the FORM, which will also be presented to the AJ. If the applicant requests a hearing, the applicant ( with or without an attorney or personal representative) may present witnesses and other evidence at the hearing. The applicant may also cross-examine witnesses and challenge evidence presented by the DOHA Department Counsel (an attorney representing DoD). The AJ makes a written decision and a copy is sent to the applicant. DOHA then grants or denies the clearance in accordance with the AJ’s decision. If the clearance is denied, the applicant is notified in writing and advised of their right to appeal the decision. It is possible that the DOHA Chief Department Counsel could grant the clearance after reviewing the applicant’s response to the SOR, thus obviating the need to present the case to an AJ.

DoD civilian employees and military personnel can submit a written rebuttal to the SOR, but they are not entitled to a hearing. If the applicant doesn’t rebut the SOR, DoDCAF will deny the clearance. If they submit a rebuttal to the SOR, the adjudicator will decide to grant or deny the clearance in light of information submitted in the rebuttal. If a decision is made to deny a clearance, the applicant is notified in writing of their right to appeal the decision, including a right to a “Personal Appearance” before a DOHA AJ.