Previously Adjudicated Adverse Information is Still Fair Game

Many security clearance applicants mistakenly believe that previously adjudicated adverse information does not have to be disclosed or is not open to review when undergoing subsequent background investigations. But there’s no such thing as security clearance “double jeopardy;” just because something didn’t affect your investigation in the past, doesn’t mean it can’t affect it in the future.

Adjudicators consider all adverse information – if relevant – to the whole person concept. To do this, they look at incidents or behavior that are connected to more recent conduct – regardless of how long ago it was, or if it was favorably adjudicated in a prior background investigation. For example, say an individual had two convictions for driving under the influence (DUI), one twelve years ago and the other nine years ago. They were favorably adjudicated five years ago during the background investigation process for a Secret clearance. This individual then gets put in for a upgrade to Top Secret and undergoes a new investigation. Prior to the case closing, he gets arrested again for DUI. Now, when the current investigation closes, all three DUI incidents are under review because they depict a pattern of questionable judgement and behavior.

This same type of scenario was outlined in a recent Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) clearance decision in which the applicant had gone AWOL from his military unit in 2006 and was dishonorably discharged. In 2010 he got a position as a defense contractor and was granted a Secret clearance. In 2013 he traveled to Taiwan, became romantically involved with a local national, and intentionally missed his return flight to return to work so he could spend more time with her. He was subsequently charged for five days AWOL. After telling security officials he had no intention of seeing the foreign national woman again, it was discovered afterwards she visited him in the U.S. for six weeks. The 2006 AWOL charge, although previously adjudicated, is now connected to similar recent behavior. The judge then used this to establish a pattern of poor judgement and a lack of candor, serving as the basis for denying him clearance eligibility.


  1. This actually makes a lot of sense and actually clarified my thoughts about your previous post regarding this where a few people speculated as to what previous behavior can be re-evaluated.

    It’s recurrent behavior and should be revisited and considered. It’s the very reason why second chances should keep people from their first issue happening again.

    The way it was phrased before people were interpreting as something that was previously adjudicated was suddenly an issue at re-evaluation. Thanks for the clarifying content.

  2. Government needs to make up its mind.