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Is losing a security clearance an adverse personnel action?

The Obama administration is calling for an overhaul of the federal security clearance system. The call may be in response to the recent government data breach of about 4.2 million records maintained by the Office of Personnel Management. The new approach shifts responsibility to the Defense Department for housing the sensitive information.

The Defense Department is no stranger to sensitive personnel information. When an individual signs a military enlistment contract, he or she may also receive a security clearance. To the extent one’s military role requires a security clearance, losing that status may result in serious consequences. Indeed, the loss of a security clearance might be characterized as an adverse personnel action.

Fortunately, such actions might be challenged. A service member can appeal an adverse decision regarding his or her security clearance by filing a notice of appeal. A written appeal brief generally must then be submitted. The Appeal Board at the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals will review the appeal brief and issue a decision. In general, successful appeals are able to demonstrate that the presiding administrative judge made an error.

Since the outcome of an appeal is so dependent on the quality of the submitted written brief, it pays to consult with a military defense attorney. An attorney can review the facts and evidence for the most strategic advantage. Other adverse personnel actions may call for different procedures to appeal, depending on the military department and the specific issue. Most, however, involve a written submission from the affected service member. Our military law firm has helped clients in this situation. Check out our firm’s website to learn more about our approach to adverse personnel action appeals. 

Source: military.com, “Obama Enlists Pentagon to Overhaul Security Clearance System,” Josh Lederman, Jan. 23, 2016

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David P. Sheldon | International Military Law Attorney

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