Security Clearance Law Group offers nationwide assistance with responses to SORs and LOIs. If you have issues with your Statement of Reasons or Letter of Intent, our qualified lawyers will help you navigate this difficult process and give you peace of mind as you wait for a potentially favorable decision.
The Process for Responding to SORs and LOIs
If your security clearance has been suspended, denied or revoked, the government will issue you a Statement of Reasons, which outlines the basis for their decision.
What is a SOR?
A Statement of Reasons is a document that lists the factual basis for the security clearance denial or revocation. The purpose is to spell out all security concerns, whereby you will have an ability to formally respond.
The SOR is typically issued immediately after the development of a security concern. That concern will be reviewed by the federal agency in question and will then be cleared or the matter will proceed by way of the clearance adjudication process.
The SOR is the key document to examine when your goal is to mitigate the negative security clearance decision.
What is a LOI?
A Letter of Intent lists the intent of the agency to deny or revoke a security clearance based on the information stated in the SOR. The LOI is more or less a warning that something questionable was revealed in your background investigation. The LOI will be accompanied by the SOR and either sent to you directly if you are a government employee or sent to your security officer if you are a government contractor.
How to Respond to a SOR
You have the right to appeal your revocation or denial. The first step is to reply to the statement of reasons to either deny the reasons, correct them, or mitigate them entirely.
Here are some tips to remember that will give you the best chances of appealing the decision to deny or revoke your security clearance.
You must respond to the SOR or LOI within a certain time frame. While it is possible to request an extension, you must have a good reason for doing so, such as being a member of military personnel who happens to be deployed. For most, you have fifteen calendar days from the point of the decision to request a hearing with an Administrative Judge. Failure to respond in a timely manner can cause you to forfeit your rights to the security clearance appeals process.
Ensure You Understand the SOR
In order to respond adequately to the SOR, you must fully understand the facts as they are listed. The SOR includes the guidelines by which the clearance was revoked or denied. The document may list financial considerations, for example, or those involving foreign influence. The SOR will include facts directly related to which led to the adverse decision. If any aspects of the SOR are unclear, ensure you receive help from a security clearance expert.
Respond to Each Fact
The SOR will be detailed, meaning that it will spell out in clear and simple terms why you are denied, or why your clearance was revoked. If you have debt, for instance, and a home in foreclosure, the SOR would list both issues. Your responsibility when responding to a SOR is to confirm, deny, or mitigate each item. When attempting to mitigate the facts, you must include documentation to support your case, such as receipts showing that your bad debt was already paid off.
Stick to the Facts Only
Your first reaction may be to respond with emotion to the SOR. After all, not having a security clearance or having your clearance revoked can have serious implications for your family. If the SOR lists facts that came about because of bad decision making, attempting to gain sympathy is the wrong way to go. Instead, provide documentation showing how the behavior has changed. Stick to the facts, in other words, and you’ll likely have a much better outcome.
Never Admit Anything Not 100% True
If any of the facts in the SOR are not completely accurate, and you have doubts as to the allegations or the accuracy of the details, then it is appropriate to deny the allegations outright.
This is critical, as admitting to anything not entirely true alleviates the government of its burden to prove the specific allegations. An allegation that is denied requires the government to move forward by showing actual proof.
If you have questions regarding whether you should admit or deny a particular allegation, it is highly recommended that you get the help of experienced security clearance professionals, such as our attorneys at Security Clearance Law Group.
Whatever you do, never admit to a partially wrong allegation without clarifying what is incorrect. Similarly, it is best not to deny any allegations as a whole without explaining which part is true.
Request the Investigative File
You have the right to request a copy of your investigative file at any time after the investigation has been completed. For best results, it is wise to request the file as soon as possible, as it can take time to receive it, sometimes as long as a month or more. You can find the form to request the investigative file by using the proper form issued by the Office of Personnel Management.
If you are requesting the file after you have received the SOR, you can use the text block in Section Three of the form, which asks that they expedite your request due to the limited time window allotted for SOR responses.
Request a Hearing Before DOHA
You have the right to a hearing before the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals. You must formally request a hearing or else you will waive your right. Once requested, the case will be assigned to an administrative judge for a clearance decision based only on the written record.
In many cases, you have a better chance of winning your appeal at the formal hearing. This is due to the fact that you and your counsel will be given the opportunity to speak directly to the judge, thereby answering all questions directed at you.
Sadly, many applicants waive their right to a hearing before DOHA by submitting a written response only. When applicants respond on their own, without professional help, their responses are almost always incomplete or at least fail to mitigate the important issues.
If you are a government employee, it is always best to have a full record before the Personnel Security Appeals Board (PSAB) to have the best chances of success when reversing the clearance action. Judges also place much more weight on direct testimony, making the appeals hearing the recommended course of action.
Get the Help of a Security Clearance Professional
Your federal agency may have a facility security officer, and their help can be useful, but he or she may not be equipped to provide the proper assistance needed to respond to the SOR you received.
Seeking out the help of a security clearance attorney can help immensely. At Security Clearance Law Group, we are staffed by security clearance lawyers and can help you respond to the SOR within the allotted time frame.
This means that the moment you receive your SOR or LOI, you should call us. Our attorneys will act quickly to request an appeal hearing and defend against your suspension, revocation, or denial.
Have You Been Denied a Security Clearance?
Whether you have been denied during the application process or your security clearance was suspended or revoked, you have a right to know why.
Here are the 13 adjudicative criteria the government uses to deny or revoke security clearances. They include all the reasons why you may have issues with your application.
Guideline A refers to unlawful speech or certain actions intent on influencing, harming, or overthrowing the government, be it local, state, or federal. Allegiance to the country could also refer to words or actions that prevent others from exercising their constitutional rights.
Guideline B refers to the act of living with someone or having an association with someone where the relationship creates a heightened security risk of coercion or foreign inducement. Likewise, it can refer to a financial interest in a foreign country, business or otherwise.
Guideline C is similar to foreign influence and comes down to loyalty to the country. This reason is frequently used for dual citizens. This means that dual citizens would be wise not to take advantage of the benefits of the other citizenship, including traveling on a passport issued by that country.
Guideline D refers to criminal sexual behavior, regardless if you have been prosecuted, and repeated, high-risk sexual behavior that is indicative of a personality or emotional disorder.
Guideline E could refer to questions about your judgment, ethics, honesty, and reliability. Personal conduct is a common disqualifying condition that is typically used for applicants who have lied when filling out their SF-86.
Guideline F could refer to a mortgage foreclosure, debt collection lawsuit, auto repossession, wage garnishment, tax lien, or bankruptcy.
Guideline G is listed on your SOR if alcohol consumption is deemed to be a hindrance to your ability to maintain a security clearance.
Guideline H refers to your ability or willingness to comply with drug rules, laws, and regulations. Using drugs can also raise concerns about your mental health and susceptibility to blackmail.
The guideline I refers to any mental, personal, and emotional issues that could prevent you from making sound decisions and that generally demonstrate untrustworthiness. A diagnosis is not necessarily a barrier to receiving a security clearance. That is why it is paramount to respond to Security Clearance & Mental Health Question 21 as honestly as you can when filling out the SF-86.
Guideline J refers to any act of breaking the law where criminal penalties apply. It both applies to actions and inaction that results in a crime, and that triggers rights to civil damages or compensation.
Guideline K is customarily invoked when a current security clearance is in question and a revocation is in order. The government may act to revoke your clearance if you demonstrate an inability to carry out your duties when handling classified information. Examples can include failing to lock a safe on several occasions or possessing a flippant attitude toward your duties as a government employee or contractor.
Outside Activities–Involvement with a Foreign Government
Guideline L may refer to relationships, particularly those of a financial nature, that are aligned with a foreign country. If you are receiving regular payments from a government or foreign company, for example, that can call into question your ability to hold a security clearance.
Guideline M stated on your SOR may relate to the excessive illegal downloading of movies or music, or the otherwise misuse of a workplace computer system, which include viewing pornography.
Whether the information on your SOR/LOI is true or untrue, it’s up to you to fight against your denial or revocation. One option is to go this process alone, but that can lead to expensive and timely mistakes.
When time is of the essence, it’s important to work with experts who know the appeals process and how to reverse the decision to help you obtain security clearance. You can also click here to read our post regarding the “Statement Of Reasons” guidelines.
Exercise Your Rights and Call an Experienced Lawyer
If you have been denied security clearance during the application process to a federal or other agency, this is not the end of the road. You have rights. You also have options. Call the Security Clearance Law Group today to discuss the specifics of your case.
All consultations are completely confidential, and your attorney will work quickly to ensure you respond to SORs and LOIs efficiently to potentially reverse the denial decision.