When a security clearance is denied or revoked, an individual receives a “Statement of Reasons” (SOR) detailing the specific reasons. The Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) advises the applicant of the right to respond with a written rebuttal, as well as their right to a hearing. Applicants receiving a SOR often believe their ability to obtain or retain a security clearance is lost – that is absolutely not the case.
While a SOR is not good news, it is worth the careful time and attention for an applicant to respond to the statement of reasons or request a hearing. There are several important points to consider when responding to a SOR.
1. Be timely.
While you can request an extension (and deployed military personnel who may have difficulty gathering the appropriate documentation in time are encouraged to do so), you MUST have a good reason. Be sure you follow the requirements for a timely response to the SOR.
2. Understand the SOR.
The first step in responding to a SOR is ensuring you fully understand the facts included. The SOR should include the general guideline by which the clearance was denied or suspended (financial considerations or foreign influence, for instance), but should also include facts specific to the applicant or clearance holder which caused the denial. If any of the facts are unclear
3. Mitigate, confirm or deny each fact in the SOR.
A SOR often contains several specific reasons for clearance denial or revocation. For instance, if an individual has both debt and a pending home foreclosure, the SOR would list each of the issues – the response to the SOR should include mitigating factors for each issue, including documentation.
4. Use just the facts.
While it’s easy to consider the issue emotionally – a security clearance denial or revocation may have implications for an entire family – respond to the SOR with facts, documentation and written affidavits. If poor decision-making was a factor show the reasons behind, and provide documentation for how behavior has changed since.
5. Get help.
Security Clearance Help
While a facility security officer can be a great resource, they may not be equipped to provide the comprehensive assistance needed to respond to a SOR. Consider hiring an attorney or security clearance consultant to assist you. Don’t wait until the last minute to get help – act quickly to ensure they have time to respond.