The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Hearing and Appeals released their Fiscal Year 2017 report which included statistics for personnel security hearings on 96 security clearance appeals. Included in these numbers are cases for the DOE Human Reliability Program, which screens individuals to determine eligibility for access to certain materials, nuclear devices, or critical facilities. The below chart taken from the report shows the number of cases and types of concerns that were reviewed by the appeals board:

The top issues included:

  • Lack of Trustworthiness/Reliability/Candor/Criminal Conduct
  • Mental Condition
  • Alcohol Misuse
  • Illegal Drug Use

The report noted the appeals board processing time of 15 days from time of referral/receipt to issuance of a decision. It is obvious the workload, when compared to DOHA, is much smaller, hence the ability to review and make determinations more quickly. I did find interesting the fact that the DOE Office of Hearing and Appeals conducts outreach and training to the personnel security specialists in the field. This helps them understand how to evaluate and document concerns and apply mitigation and lower the number of referrals to the board. The board in turn, when reviewing an appeal, is less likely to reverse the decision on a technical or procedural error. This helps make the entire process, even for those that are granted clearances without having to through an appeal.

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Marko Hakamaa served in various military police positions with the United States Army worldwide for 22 years before retiring in 2006 as a Master Sergeant. Afterwards, he transitioned into the civilian workforce as a contractor background investigator for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) before entering civil service as a Security Specialist in 2009.