According to the Department of Defense (“DoD”), about 3.6 million employees and contractors affiliated with the Department of Defense have a security clearance as of July 2019, which entitles them to see information typically protected from the public. Those clearances are subject to review, and maintenance of the clearance depends on the absence of adverse information from the clearance file. If the clearance holder believes there is something in her/his/their security clearance file that may compromise clearance eligibility, the first thing to do is find out what is actually in the file. DoD clearance information—pretty much all of the security clearances except those for Intelligence Community components—is maintained in the Defense Information Security System (“DISS,” formerly the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (“JPAS”)) which is managed by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (“DCSA”) as of October 1, 2019.
Until October 1, 2019, the majority of security clearance processing was handled by the Office of Personnel Management’s National Background Investigations Bureau (“NBIB”); however, the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act and a 2019 Executive Order moved the process to the Department of Defense under the newly minted DCSA. Under the new process, DCSA’s DoD Consolidated Adjudications Services (“CAS”) is “the sole authority to determine security clearance eligibility of non-Intelligence agency DoD personnel occupying sensitive positions and/or requiring access to classified material including Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI).” This includes “all military service members, military applicants, civilian employees, and consultants affiliated with DoD, to include the staff of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the Congressional Budget Office, the United States Capitol Police, selected judicial staff, DoD personnel at the White House, and contractor personnel under the National Industrial Security Program (NISP).”
Requesting Your Records
DoD personnel, whether active duty or civilian, as well as contractors, should request their DISS records from DCSA under the DCSA Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (“FOIA/PA”). Anyone who has received a Statement of Reasons (“SOR”) should request their investigative files by following the specific instructions included with the SOR. DoD personnel who have not received a SOR but would like to request their records for other reasons should follow the steps below.
OPM Form INV 100
Requesters may, but are not required to, use OPM Form INV 100 to request records. Although requesters may submit a handwritten request, using the form is the safest way to ensure submission of all required requestor information, and it simplifies the process. Failing to provide the information required may result in delays and requests for additional information. The specific information required can be found by selecting “Completed Investigation” here.
According to DCSA, completed requests should be sent to:
Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency
ATTN: FOI/PA office
PO Box 618, Boyers, PA 16018
For deliveries requiring a street address:
1137 Branchton Road
Boyers, PA 16018
DCSA warns that although requests may be sent by e-mail, it may not be an appropriate method unless the requester’s email system is secure, because the request requires personally identifiable information, including complete social security numbers.
What to Expect
The wheels of government turn slowly and this is no exception. Although you may be pleasantly surprised, be prepared to wait a while for a response to your FOIA/PA request. Historically, responses have generally taken a year or more, though recently we have received responses in as few as three months. The information you receive will also likely be redacted; however, you should be able to view enough information to understand the allegations.
What to Do Once You Have Received your Information
KCNF has a team of security clearance attorneys with extensive experience handling all aspects of security clearance law. If you find your file contains adverse information or you would like an assessment, we can help.
For more information, please check out Security Clearance Law and Procedure written by KCNF partners Elaine Fitch & Mary Kuntz with contributions from Elisabeth Baker-Pham and Aaron Herreras Szot.