Although we much prefer to be proactive with clients and work with them up front to avoid the pitfalls associated with receiving a Letter of Intent, this isn’t always the case.
Let’s say you already have your security clearance and you’ve just received a Letter of Intent – the government’s initial correspondence informing you that it has uncovered something in your background that must be addressed to avoid having your clearance revoked. What do you do now?
Step One: Take it Seriously
This is no joke. Having your clearance revoked can create a chain reaction in your professional life. According to Military.com, the loss of security clearance can have the following effects for military personnel:
- Rate conversion, which could negatively impact your ability to be promoted.
- Forced retirement or discharge from service.
- Inability to reapply for clearance for one year, which can interfere with your ability to advance.
Government contractors and civilian government employees also can be negatively impacted by revoked security clearance. For example, defense contractors often cannot obtain work if they cannot be granted access to classified information. This means the potential loss of current employment, as well as being prevented from gaining employment in the future.
Step Two: Hire a Security Clearance Lawyer
When clearance is a job requirement and you’ve been issued a Letter of Intent, our recommendation is to immediately seek the counsel of a lawyer who specializes in security clearance law to increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.
Retired federal clearance investigator William H. Henderson reviewed 500 cases between March and October 2012 that had been decided by Administrative Judges at the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals.
“These cases showed that at the final stage of clearance adjudication, applicants with attorneys or personal representatives were granted clearances 60 percent more often than those who represented themselves,” he wrote in a Clearance Jobs article.
However, just 98 percent of the applicants in the cases Henderson reviewed opted for attorney representation. Applicants chose to represent themselves in 400 of the cases, and just 32 percent of them were granted security clearances.
Step Three: Review Your Statement of Reasons
A Statement of Reasons accompanies a Letter of Intent, which provides the reason why the government intends to revoke your clearance. It also explains that you have the right to respond to the action by providing mitigating reasons why you should retain your clearance, and it informs you of your right to a hearing.
Henderson recommends that if you think it will take a few days to retain legal counsel, start doing your own homework. Otherwise, your attorney will assist you in these tasks: submitting a Privacy Act request for a copy of your clearance investigation; reviewing the Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information and identifying the mitigating circumstances that apply to your case; gathering supportive documents for your formal response; and locating people who can help you back up your stance.
Once all your information is gathered and submitted, everything will be reviewed and one of two scenarios will occur: your clearance will be granted, or you will receive a Letter of Notification that makes your security clearance revocation official.
Step Four: Determine Whether to Appeal
This is another step where it is particularly helpful to have an attorney by your side. Your attorney will review the information in the Letter of Notification and offer advice on whether it’s worth it to appeal. You have 10 days to appeal the decision.
If you appeal, you may opt to do so in writing, or you can choose to appear before an administrative judge.
We hope this gives you a better understanding of the steps you can take if you are at risk of losing your security clearance. Feel free to contact our office if you would like more information about your specific case. We represent clients from throughout the United States.