Automated Clearance Adjudication

In their 17 September 2008 written remarks to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management, John Fitzpatrick, Acting Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Security and Elizabeth McGrath, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Business Transformation reported that eAdjudication of clean cases for Secret clearances will begin at selected adjudication facilities by the end of the year. About 25% of Secret clearances will be eligible for eAdjudication. This should speed up the process by allowing adjudicators to spend their time on more complex cases.

According to the print edition of the Federal Times, McGrath told the subcommittee in follow-up testimony that the Army will begin a pilot eAdjudication program by the end of December and that it will cover Army personnel, civilian employees and contractors. The administration wants eAdjudication to eventually cover all federal agencies.

Comment Archive

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    Sounds like more bureaucracy. No pilot program can circumvent the do nothings at DSS. When you call them regarding your appeal they tell you that they have 18+ months of unopened mail. Why don’t they get off the phone and open some of that mail and rout it to an adjudicator! I’ve been waiting over 7 months and cannot get a job because of these do nothings who are getting paid for not decently responding to legitimate appeals for adjudication. They tell me I must be a “reporter” in order for fast track (30 day) processing. According to DSS every case is “complex.” The government can save money by getting rid of these bureaucratic do nothings!

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    OK–is it a real good decision to run anything through the houses of Congress? I guess they can create an eBailout plan and a new eMortgage plan since they have single-handedly destroyed our economy.

    This plan has “Deception” written all over it. Once the word spreads that if you don’t list any negative issues, you will be cleared by computer. Believe me the word spreads fast in the Armed Forces. Even good people will make bad decisions. As always, my disclaimer is, this is just my opinion.

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    “This plan has “Deception” written all over it. Once the word spreads that if you don’t list any negative issues, you will be cleared by computer.”

    Why would using automated data matching and scoring (eAjudication) lead to applicants being less likely to list negative items? Computers are relatively good at detecting mismatched data, i.e. LE or credit records listing negative items that the applicant omitted on the applicant’s form causing the application to get bounced.

    eAdjudication doesn’t omit the investigative phase of collecting records from various other sources to verify what applicants self-report. However, eAdjudication may be more “picky” about getting details (dates, spelling, locations, etc) correct in the investigative reports and applicant’s forms; which is probably going to be frustrating for both investigators and applicants.

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    The people answering the phone are just that…administrative people. They arent, nor could they be ajdudicators, because they’re most likely not trained as such. Even if they are, they can’t adjudicate because they spend all the time on the phone with people asking about their appeal, when those questions are supposed to be routed through their security officer in the first place, who should know how to make the proper contact anyways.

    I’ve never had to appeal a denial, but I’ve had derogatory information reported. I can say that whether accurate or not, 99.9% of the time you wouldnt have been in the void waiting 7+ months if it werent for your own actions, so if there is a delay, there’s usually a really good reason for it on appeals.

    Regarding the mail, the folks on the phone aare most likely forbidden from even opening the mail. Why? They’re not in the adjudication process and your records are protected. I personally dont want just anyone opening my record, and as a security officer I flat deny anyone access to any records unless they present OPM or other credentials, or have a very, very good, valid and verified reason. An example being the Commander making an assesment for granting an interim clearance. Even, I almost always limit record review to myself and just make my recommnedation to the Commander. If he wants more detail I give it to him.

    Appeals always will take time. Be thankful for 7 months. You’re in limbo, but its likely your own fault. Whoever is on the other end of your case adjudicating it has a life altering descision in their hands that will not only will drastically alter your life one way or another but also could have drastic impact on national security.

    You’re really not the only case out there, and you’re not the highest priority either. You’re one dot of sand in a huge pile of issues. My clearance was in limbo for almost 24 months, and thats WITH several letters and official documentation stating that the reported derog was submitted in error and completely false. This while I had an SSBI on going.

    Now on the subject of e-adjudication. I’m not the biggest fan of complete automation. I also dont think it will have as big of an impact as we might think. I think credit reporting alone will throw a case out of the “clean” range for most of us.

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    Thanks for replying. It’s not reassuring to know that obviously false cases are in limbo for 24 months. I have been offered employment only to have their offer withdrawn when their JPAS inquiry flashes RED. Companies will not submit an RRU because they know DSS is totally incompetent. To imply that my case will have a drastic impact on national security is an insult to myself and the classified military hardware I have worked on since 1965!
    I am now in Federal Court to have these obviously false charges removed from my JPAS record. I don’t know when a real Judge will force DSS/DISCO to act. In the meantime I am unemployed and companies can not find experienced American born & bred competent engineers. I’m sure my case is not unique. It’s very sad, but the next time one of our Missile Systems shoots down one of our airplanes, DSS should know that they have contributed to the death of one of our pilots!

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    Don’t get me wrong, we need some way to streamline this thing. What I am saying on a NACLC (Secret), if a person simply does not put down, let’s say any mental health counseling–how would the computer know there was in fact counseling, which is an auto trigger for a SPIN when it meets requirements. There is many things a simple inquiry will not “Sniff Out.” Juvenile offenses with new Troops (Young 19 0r 18) may not show unless admitted. These are a few examples. I am not saying people are dishonest–I am a believer that most people are good, but the temptation is presented.

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    I had an Interim Secret for the last 11 months, last week I got an email from my company security officer tell me that “DISCO posted a Loss of Jurisdiction”. My questions are what that means? What options do I have? Also and how long do you think it will take for this to resolve.
    I appreciate the help

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    It means you are screwed! Unless you are still working and your company security officer is competent and can rectify the situation. Otherwise look for a job which doesn’t require you to be eligible for a security clearance because that’s what “Loss of Jurisdiction” means.

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    FSO just told me DOHA sent him “eyes only” package? yes I am still working and they company told me they will work with me to take care of this.!!1

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    Sounds like you are working for a rare decent company. Make sure you know what is in the “eyes only” package. If the company won’t show you the contents then file a “Freedom of Information request” to find out what has caused your “Loss of Jurisdiction.” Don’t rely on what anyone tells you – you want to see what is written in your JPAS/DISCO file. Good luck.

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    DISCO enters “Loss of Jurisdiction” when:
    1) During the investigative or adjudicative process, the person’s case is terminated because he no longer requires a clearance.
    2) An interim eligibility had been issued then withdrawn until the final determination is rendered.
    3) The individual had a final eligibility, an incident report was submitted and there is no indication of an active DOD association which requires a clearance eligibility.
    4) A CAF other than DOHA denies or revokes SCI eligibility for a subject whose clearance request was submitted by a cleared contractor who did indicate that a separate collateral clearance was required.

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    Oops. I left out a “not” in situation #4. It should read: “. . . who did not indicate that . . . .”

  13. Avatar

    Thank you I appreciate your help, I will be getting the “eyes only” package soon.

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    “What I am saying on a NACLC (Secret), if a person simply does not put down, let’s say any mental health counseling–how would the computer know there was in fact counseling, which is an auto trigger for a SPIN when it meets requirements.”

    How is this different whether the adjucation is performed by a human or automation? How would a human adjudicator looking at the exact same information know about something not in the application or investigative report?

    Adjudicators are not omniscient or dropped from the sky fully trained, whether human or machine. For the simple cases, most of the same indicators that human junior adjucators are trained to looked for can be included in an automated scoring. On the other hand, automated scoring will probably also miss many of the same things that are missed by junior adjudicator training.

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    Is it the same with Federal Civil Service positions? I have 18 years in am in adjudication on my clearance.?
    The position I was hired for requires a clearance, which I just found out got denied. I’m going through the adjudication process, but still need to know if FCS would fire me or help me find a position not requiring a clearance. Thanks.

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    Home Security Systems

    Sounds like you had an interim clearance denied–is this correct? If so, this does not mean you will not be cleared after further review. If your case is actively in adjudication, sounds like you have not been denied.

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    I was told that DSS or DISCO completed my security clearance investigation in October. It was then forwarded to DOHA for determination.

    I have read many conflicting articles and FAQ’s regarding this.

    My question is whether or not my clearance being forwarded to DOHA is a negative or at the minimum “not a good sign”.

    Thanks in advance.

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    I will be officially retired from the Army on 1 April 09. I was tentively selected for a position with the same organization I worked for during the past 8 years as active-duty military but in a different location. I am currently working in Korea but the new position is in the U.S. I have a secret clearance that was adjudicated on Jan 04. When they sent me the offer (Nov 08), I was told I needed to send a new SF-86 for them to process. They would need everything except fingerprints. I believed this would be a quick process since I had a current clearance already. After 2 months I still haven’t received word form HRC. They insist OPM is still working my clearance.

    Question- Is this normal to have to do a new clearance when you already have one?

    My only concern is I have been working overseas for the past 8 years for DOD so to investigate me again could cause a delay due to my locations (Germany/Korea).

    Another concern is my wife is a foreign-born spouse who holds a 10-year green card. We have been married for over 20 years but I have been reading other blogs and this subject concerns me. I didn’t have a problem on my initial clearance 5 years ago but …. what about now?

    Any advise will help.


  19. Avatar

    About 75% of DISCO cases are favorably adjudicated by DISCO. The other 25% are forwarded to DOHA for adjudication. If your case was forwarded from DISCO to DOHA for adjudication, it’s not good, but it’s not terrible either. DOHA favorably adjudicates 96% of the cases it receives from DISCO.

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    If your prospective employer is DoD agency or DoD contractor and is submitting you for a Secret clearance, a new SF86 should not have been required and OPM should not be conducting an investigation. If they are submitting you for a TS clearance, then a new SF86 is required and OPM will conduct a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI), which could take several months to complete, because you are in Korea. It will also take a few months to adjudicate. Having an active Secret clearance make you immediately eligible for an interim TS clearance. There have been no changes to the “Foreign Influence” criterion in the Adjudicative Guidelines. If your non-US citizen spouse was not a problem 5 years ago, she should not be a problem now. Recommend you contact your prospective employer’s security officer to find out what’s going on.

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    Mr. Henderson,

    Thanks for the post. A lot has happened since I made the original post.

    HRC contacted me last week and I was informed I needed to submit fingerprints. I was very hot because why didn’t they inform me 2 months ago when I submitted my original packet???? (Christmas Holiday/Thanksgiving/
    What else) He stated security just informed him?????

    I believe the procedure I described in my earlier post is acurate because I currently work with a retire AF person who had just received a new clearance prior to retirement. As soon as he was selected for the position with DLA as a civilian he had to submit a new SF 86 and fingerprints. The process took 3 weeks and he received his final job offer. We are assuming he received an interim because about a year after he started, his clearance was adjudicated.

    I have also recieved 2 offers from another DOD organization and they only need me to submit my NAME/SSN to confirm my clearance.

    Go figure. I’m serious contemplating on changing my direction.

    What upsets me the most is my orginal clearance that I received in 2004 is for the same job that I will be doing as a civilian now (exact same)????

    V/R Bill

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    The clearance is for a non-critical sensitive ( I believe this is SECRET)