Contractor Asserts DOHA Judge Was Biased in Denying Her Appeal
A Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) case caught my eye because it is related to all of the recent protests across the United States advocating fair treatment and respect for all. This applicant had previously held a security clearance for 12 years and has worked as a federal contractor for 17 years. The DoD denied her eligibility for a clearance based on financial considerations and the initial appeals judge upheld the decision. The applicant subsequently appealed to DOHA. Here is a summary of the case:
The applicant was issued a Statement of Reasons (SOR) outlining issues related to financial considerations. She admitted to not having filed federal and state taxes for years 2012-18 and attributed it to having gone through an IRS audit resulting in findings of tax deduction anomalies to which she had to make corrections and owed $16,000. She also claimed her lender was trying to foreclose on her house amid mold remediation problems and it caused a distraction as well. The DoD denied her clearance request. During the initial appeal hearing she claimed to have engaged a financial advisor to get all of her taxes filed, but did not provide proof of actual filing. Accordingly, no mitigation was applied and the judge denied her initial appeal.
Next up was the DOHA appeal in which the applicant claimed the initial judge was biased towards her during her hearing because she was twice reminded “to tell the truth” before providing testimony. She further went on to state “Bias in courtrooms and various judicial settings is a serious problem that affects the ability of African Americans to receive a fair result in a courtroom/hearing room setting.” The DOHA judge considered the fact that all appeal applicants are reminded to tell the truth and found the applicant had provided no evidence of bias or due process fault in the summary of the case. The DOHA judge upheld the denial of security clearance eligibility.
This was an open and shut case in which the issues fell squarely within the adjudicative standards under financial considerations. As a long-serving federal contractor with previous security clearances this applicant knew what the standards were, but chose to ignore her fiscal responsibilities until she was forced to take action when she applied for a new clearance, and even then, could not provide anything that would mitigate the concerns. This case had to do with a lack of honesty, reliability, and integrity of a person who wanted access to national security information.