Security Clearance Process

SEAD 9 Establishes Policy to Help Protect Whistleblower Security Clearances

Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 9 Whistleblower Protection: Appellate Review of Retaliation Regarding Security Clearances and Access Determinations was released by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) last week and establishes policy for the DNI appellate review process for employees who seek to appeal an adverse final agency determination with respect to alleged retaliatory action(s) taken by an employing agency affecting the employee’s security clearance or access determination as a result of a protected disclosure.

The primary purpose of SEAD 9 is to require all agencies to establish an appeal process for whistleblowers that permits current or former employees to appeal the decision affecting their security clearance or eligibility for access. The Office of the Inspector General for the that agency is responsible for fact-finding and reporting to the Appellate Review Panel (ARP) chaired by the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence or designee. Once the ARP has reviewed all of the information available, they will publish an opinion as to whether the agency’s action regarding the employee’s security clearance was retaliatory due to whistleblowing activities or if the agency’s actions were appropriate.

The need for the DNI to create this policy guidance most likely stemmed from several recent high-profile incidents where individuals who spoke out against their company for engaging in unethical practices or members of the military and government civilians who spoke out against policies of the incumbent administration subsequently had their security clearances revoked in retaliation.