It has been quite the tumultuous year in the security clearance realm: the record number of investigations backlog, clearance reform efforts, and the impending transfer of responsibility for investigations from the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) back to the Department of Defense (DoD). As of December 7, 2018 the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) Board heard 1,844 initial DoD clearance denial appeals. As in previous years, financial issues continue to outpace all other issues combined. Below is a breakdown by adjudicative category of the types of issues involved resulting in the initial denial (Note – many cases had multiple issues):

Adjudicative Guideline 2018 2017
Guideline A: Allegiance to the U.S 0 0
Guideline B: Foreign Influence 234 254
Guideline C: Foreign Preference 46 91
Guideline D: Sexual Behavior 30 14
Guideline E: Personal Conduct 501 408
Guideline F: Financial Considerations 1224 1497
Guideline G: Alcohol Consumption 108 97
Guideline H: Drug Involvement 168 170
Guideline I: Psychological Conditions 4 1
Guideline J: Criminal Conduct 144 132
Guideline K: Handling Protected Information 25 20
Guideline L: Outside Activities 0 8
Guideline M: Use of IT Systems 18 11

These are only the results from DOD security clearance appeals and do not include denials or appeals processed by the Intelligence Community agencies, State Department, Department of Energy, or the various other government agencies that grant their own clearances.

Looking at the numbers compared with last year, the only significant changes were under Guideline C which dropped by half, Guideline D which doubled, and Guideline L which had none. New adjudicative guidance issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence probably contributed to the decrease in number of foreign preference issues.

As always, I recommend those seeking or already holding a clearance visit and the ClearanceJobsBlog forum to browse through the enormous amount of valuable information posted by subject matter experts and those who have already gone or are going through the security clearance process.


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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.