Important Changes are coming for Department of Defense (DoD) Employees with Security Clearances

These changes will impact all military personnel and those employed by:

  • Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA)
  • Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
  • National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
  • National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)
  • National Security Agency (NSA)/Central Security Service (CSS)
  • Washington Headquarters Services (WHS)

The DoD dramatically equalized how their employees can fight to keep their access to classified information. Everyone—DoD civilians, military members, contractors—will now have the same procedural protections provided in Executive Order 10865 and DoD Directive 5220.6. In layman’s terms, that means regardless of who you are or what level of access you are seeking, you will be entitled to (among other things):

  1. Know, in writing and in as much detail as possible without impacting national security, why your access may be denied or revoked;
  2. Respond in writing under oath or affirmation;
  3. Appear “in person” to present additional evidence and argument why your access should be granted or reinstated;
  4. Representation by a lawyer;
  5. Call witnesses on your behalf;
  6. A written final decision from an Administrative Judge (AJ), which will explain which allegations in the statement of reasons were found for or against you; and
  7. The opportunity to appeal if the decision is adverse.

This includes DoD contractors appealing a denial of access to Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). Significantly, federal employees no longer have to go through a stressful hearing only to wait for an AJ at the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) to issue an advisory opinion that is then considered by an oversight panel (the PSAB – Personnel Security Appeal Board), which may reach a different decision. That multi-step process is now simply: a hearing before an AJ at DOHA, who will have the authority to issue a decision (not just an advisory opinion), with the possibility of an appeal if either side disagrees with the AJ’s decision. Basically, it is a much fairer and straightforward process.

These changes are to be implemented no later than September 30, 2022. If your eligibility is denied or suspended before the changes go into effect, you will be subject to the old procedures, but you can ask your component in writing to postpone your DOHA hearing and decision.

If you’d like further details about this development you can read the memorandum here.