If you are reading this blog, you may be aware that a “Statement of Reasons” (SOR) is a list of reasons detailing why a security clearance is being denied or revoked. The best chance you have of retaining your security clearance is by providing an effective, accurate, and timely response to the Letter of Intent (LOI) or Statement of Reasons (SOR). Unfortunately, many hardworking, honest people lose their security clearances simply because they fail to provide the right information in this crucial step of the clearance process.
1. RESPOND TO THE REASONS LISTED
The SOR will list each area of concern, and it is crucial that your response explains, confirms, or denies each issue. The issue(s) listed will relate to one of the thirteen adjudicative guidelines used to determine eligibility for a security clearance. These guidelines are: (A) allegiance to the United States; (B) foreign influence; (C) foreign preference; (D) sexual behavior; (E) personal conduct; (F) financial considerations; (G) alcohol consumption; (H) drug involvement; (I) emotional, mental, and personality disorders; (J) criminal conduct; (K) security violations; (L) outside activities; and (M) misuse of information technology systems. The SOR should state both the general guideline used to deny or suspend the clearance (such as financial considerations or security violations), as well as the specific facts that resulted in the denial (such as credit card debt or failing to disclose foreign travel).
The SOR often contains more than one specific reasons for why your clearance was denied or revoked, and your response must address each of the concerns raised. For example, the SOR may include a foreclosure and an arrest or contact with foreign nationals. If your response only provides an explanation of why your house was foreclosed and how your personal finances are now in order, but not the other issues, your response will likely be insufficient to salvage your clearance.
2. PROVIDE EVIDENCE
It is equally important to provide specific evidence to address each concern raised in the SOR. For example, if a concern relates to your credit report, but you are making a good faith effort to resolve those debts, your response should include documentation from your creditors. Simply stating that the credit report is inaccurate or the status of the debt is insufficient. People often respond to the SOR by providing character statements attesting to their integrity and work ethic but not documentation relating to the actual concern listed in the SOR. While it makes sense that providing DoD CAF documentation of your character should demonstrate that you are trustworthy enough for a clearance, these statements usually do not to address the specific issue raised in the SOR. Failing to address and provide evidence relating to each concern will likely result in revocation or denial of your clearance.
3. MOST COMMON SOR RESPONSE MISTAKES
Responding to the SOR can be stressful and the stakes are significant. In light of this pressure and the lack of experience most people have in dealing with this type of issue, the three most common mistakes made in responding to an SOR are:
- Failure to address each concern (often this means addressing only the concerns with favorable responses and avoiding the more significant issues),
- Failure to provide actual evidence to support the response, and
- Failure to get help.
Your response to the Statement of Reasons is the best chance you have to obtain or retain your clearance, and a favorable outcome at this stage allows you to avoid the hearing and appeals process. When you receive a Statement of Reasons, it is important to seek the advice of an attorney with security clearance experience quickly so that there is time to help you respond. Most facility security officers and security managers are not qualified or permitted to provide you with the comprehensive, personalized support that you need to fight for your clearance. Our law firm represents individuals in all stages of the security clearance process. We can be reached at www.hanzellawfirm.com or by telephone at (843) 638-1122.