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Security Clearance Career Profiles: DOHA Investigator

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Security Clearance Career Profile: Investigating the Tough Cases

by Ericka Cady for

Until recently I worked at the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) where I adjudicated background investigations on defense contractors who had applied for security clearances. Defense contractor cases are usually handled by the Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office (DISCO), but when DISCO is unable to grant a clearance due to the complexity of the case, the entire file is sent to DOHA.

I occasionally received an easily resolved single-issue case, but most cases that arrived at my desk were incomplete and contained multiple complex issues. These cases involved applicants with massive unresolved issues, such as delinquent debts, criminal records (some dating back to the 1960s), drug use, current alcohol abuse, foreign preference or nationality concerns, and deliberate falsification.

DOHA is now located at Fort Meade, Md. in a new state-of-the-art building specifically designed for clearance adjudication. DOHA shares the building with 9 other DOD adjudication agencies. The new facility is very secure. Personnel are required to clear 3 different checkpoints before arriving at their desks. Building rules don’t allow for any recording devices, cell phones or laptops to come inside. Lockers for the storage of such personal items are provided near the metal detectors in the reception area. Once inside, I would go directly to my workspace, a cubicle in a sea of cubicles.

After dropping my purse and lunch, I listen to 6 to 10 phone messages left for me since leaving work the previous evening. I turn on my computer and review the list of names from the phone messages, with full intent to marry them up with the actual file before attempting a return phone call.

Once logged into the computer, I pull up my email. Email is vital in DOHA. And by vital, I mean a lifeline. All information is passed in office email, from “Important all hands meeting in 20 minutes” to “Who left the coffee pot totally empty and still on?”

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Comment Archive

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    OPM FIS/DOHA/DISCO need someone like Steve Jobs to come in, say this is all #%*@, and start over. First off, why waste thousands of hours of investigators’ and reviewers’ and adjudicators’ time with financial and criminal issues. Why can’t a security clearance for a national security position have at least the same bar for a thumbs up or thumbs down as credit check for a loan or a instant check (NICS) to purchase a gun?