Security Clearance Denial

Top Issues in 2016 for Security Clearance Denials

Through the end of November this year the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) Board held 1,142 hearings for appeals on adverse security clearance determinations, eligibility for placement into public trust position or a Common Access Card denial. For comparison, I included last year’s numbers (through November 2015) in order to see trends in changes. As you can see, financial issues continue to outpace all other issues combined. Below is a breakdown by adjudicative category of the types of issues involved (Note- many cases had multiple issues):

Adjudicative Guideline                                                        2015                      2016

Guideline A: Allegiance to the U.S                                            0                             0

Guideline B: Foreign Influence                                                 87                           78

Guideline C: Foreign Preference                                              41                           45

Guideline D: Sexual Behavior                                                   8                             7

Guideline E: Personal Conduct                                                 225                         257

Guideline F: Financial Considerations                                      499                         864

Guideline G: Alcohol Consumption                                           59                           47

Guideline H: Drug Involvement                                                 122                         102

Guideline I: Psychological Conditions                                       1                             5

Guideline J: Criminal Conduct                                                  70                           61

Guideline K: Handling Protected Information                             8                             16

Guideline L: Outside Activities                                                   0                              0

Guideline M: Use of IT Systems                                                 4                              8

Although I did not delve into each and every case to see what the final outcome was, I did review a sampling from each category and found that many of the cases involving financial considerations, foreign influence, and personal conduct were decided favorably for the applicant. Mitigating any issue is always possible, whether it be a denial involving the aforementioned or other issues such as drug involvement, alcohol abuse, or criminal conduct. However, you have to be forthright and honest about everything, accept responsibility for your actions, and do your research and due diligence in providing mitigating information when presenting your case.


  1. Good info, thanks for posting.

    I noticed that, as a percentage of total cases, financial considerations jumped from 44% to almost 58%! Many of the other areas declined, percentage-wise, including Alcohol, Drugs, and Criminal Conduct… better pre-screening perhaps?. I see that Handling Protected Information also went up a bit but not a large number of cases.

    Would also like to see a similar breakdown for how long cases took but we won’t see that :slight_smile:

  2. I would like to see stats for ALL of DoD, not just Industry cases. Maybe even all of the U.S. Government agencies to see if these trends are consistent with DOHA reporting.

  3. I know that the DOHA site only provides details on industry cases. Nothing about government employees or military. Nothing for the DoD intel agencies, or anything for other non-DoD entities (State, DHS, FBI, etc etc etc).

    Still I think we can assume that people are pretty much the same and these same trends apply to other populations as well. What might be different is the possibility of appealing… I think those chances are much, much lower for direct hire decisions.

  4. I am not sure I understand your statement about the chances of appealing being low for direct hire decisions. Are you referring to appeal options for first-time direct-hire applicants, or already existing direct hires that may face revocations? I imagine for direct hires, they are just as appeal-able as well. Why would they not?

  5. You do have similar appeal rights if you get turned down for a direct-hire federal job; I’m just saying that the chances of being successful are much lower as compared with those industrial clearance cases.

  6. Yes. If you are referring to outsiders applying for clearances as a direct hire, I believe you are right. Though, it is hard to tell when there is limited to no data on case decisions as is publicly available through the DOHA industry clearance decisions.