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12 Tips for Responding to a Statement of Reasons (“SOR”)

If you are responding to a Statement of Reasons (SOR), this article presents our top 12 tactics and strategies for doing so. While most people who submit an application for a security clearance will in fact be granted a clearance and, thus, will not have to worry about how to appeal a denied or revoked security clearance, when then the government is unable to determine that it is “clearly consistent with the national interest” to grant a security clearance to a particular individual, the guidelines require that the case be referred to the Department of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA).  The DOHA, in turn, is tasked with making a prompt determination as to whether to grant a security clearance or to issue a SOR.

When a security clearance is not approved, the DoDCAF (or other agency adjudicator) will issue a SOR. Prior to formally denying or revoking a clearance, the procedural guidelines require the federal agency to provide the applicant with a written SOR.  The SOR is the key document that must be reviewed and analyzed when attempting to prevent your security clearance from being denied or revoked. 

In short, the SOR will explain the basis for the potential denial or revocation and will list the specific security concern(s) at issue as listed in the Adjudicative Guidelines.  Below each specific security concern, the SOR will list the specific allegations of disqualifying incidents or conditions drawn from your investigative file. 

The SOR will be accompanied by letter, which explains the procedure for formally responding to the SOR.  In short, you will be required to submit a detailed written answer to the SOR under oath or affirmation, specifically admitting or denying each listed allegation. 

Responding to a Statement of Reasons (“SOR”)

Tip #1: Know the Applicable Regulations.
Tip #2: Act Quickly!
TIP #3: Request the Investigative File.
Tip #4: Don’t Waive Your Right to a Hearing Before DOHA!
Tip #5: Respond Sufficiently to Each Allegation.
Tip #6. Do Not Admit to Anything that Is Not 100% True.
Tip #7:  Keep Your Response Concise.
Tip #8: Don’t Lie!
Tip #9:  Include Mitigating Proof.
Tip #10:  Respond with Just Facts.
Tip #11: Keep a Copy of the SOR and Any Responses.
Tip #12: Get Help!
The security clearance denial lawyers at Brett O'Brien Law, LLC advise applicants in the security clearance process. We also represent them as they proceed through the investigation process. We are located in Washington, D.C., and handle security clearance issues nationally. Moreover, our location in Washington, D.C., leaves us close to DOHA headquarters and hearing rooms.

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