At the recent National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Committee (NISPPAC) Meeting, several positive developments in personnel security were announced. Among these advancements, the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) Director Peregrine Russell-Hunter highlighted ongoing changes and improvements.

DOHA and CAS Achievements

During the meeting, Russell-Hunter noted three key achievements for DOHA, the Central Adjudication Services (CAS), and the clearance process.

1. Timely Legal Reviews

One key highlight of DOHA’s efforts is the prompt legal review DOHA conducts on each industrial contractor statement of reasons (SOR). On average, contractor SORs are getting their DOHA legal review within 30 days. This means that timely notice is getting out to industrial cleared employees and applicants when issues have been revealed by Continuous Vetting (CV) or were found in their investigations. This helps to maintain the integrity of the personnel security clearance process by enabling contractors to address any concerns or issues more effectively and thereby reducing delays in the clearance process.

2. CAS Conditional Clearances and Leveraging CV

The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) CAS is working on implementing conditional clearances. By leveraging Continuous Vetting (CV) capabilities, the CAS can expedite the clearance issuance process, enabling cleared individuals to access classified information sooner. By relying on CV to ensure compliance with the conditions established by the CAS, this approach avoids burdening Facility Security Officers (FSOs) with additional monitoring duties and will enhance the overall efficiency of the clearance process.

3. Enhanced Hearing Processes

When necessary and possible, DOHA is using remote video technology through platforms like Microsoft Teams. This allows for an increased number of hearings, as Administrative Judges, Department Counsel, individuals, and their lawyers or personal representatives can participate from different locations. Additionally, when in-person testimony from witnesses such as experts is required, Administrative Judges and Department Counsel are now traveling more frequently than they have in the past two years of pandemic-restricted travel. By conducting either remote or in-person hearings as appropriate, DOHA ensures that the Government has the full record it needs to ensure fair and informed decision-making in every case.

Transparency in Decision-Making

As part of its commitment to transparency, DOHA continues to publish every decision it makes. DOHA aims to enhance the understanding of its processes and foster trust among contractors and the public. This transparency reinforces that DOHA’s decisions are based on objective analysis and adherence to established guidelines, further bolstering the credibility of the personnel security clearance process. As the landscape of national security evolves, DOHA remains steadfast in their pursuit of efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.