Holding a security clearance or access authorization to Secret Compartmented Information (SCI) classified matter (Confidential, Secret, Top Secret) or special nuclear material (Q, L, or the Human Reliability Program) are each a vital and important trust.  An initial applicant for a security clearance will go through many phases in his or her application. Starting generally with your employer certifying that they have a position that requires a clearance in which they want you to work. Once your employer has certified the availability of a position requiring a clearance, then an employee generally will fill out an SF-86(e-QIP/QNSP) form. This very detailed form will ask many questions about your life. Though these forms are continually being improved and revised, the language of these forms can be difficult at times to understand and being clear and honest in your dealings with the government from the beginning is a necessity. Miscommunication can lead to a delay in the processing of a security clearance application or even to its denial.At any point in the processing of your application for a security clearance, consulting with an attorney experienced with what information can help you mitigate and resolve any concerns that arise. In life, we all have made mistakes, being able to comprehensively address them, honestly and appropriately disclose them can make a very significant difference in your case.

If the government in processing your application for a security clearance or in any number of regular procedural mechanisms (including self-reported information) has been made aware of information, correct or not, which is considered derogatory, then that information can be disputed, clarified, or admitted and evidence presented to mitigate the derogatory information in a Security Clearance Hearing or sometimes prior to a hearing through a Response to a Summary of Security Concerns (or a Response to a Statement of Reasons).  Occasionally clearance holders are sent L.O.I.’s (Letters of Interrogatory) with a list of questions relevant to a recent incident often self-reported by the individual. (Ex. Driving Under the Influence Charge, Outstanding Debt, or other issue)

In a Security Clearance Hearing under 10 C.F.R. § 710 et. Sec., once the government has made a showing of derogatory information raising security concerns, the burden is on the individual to produce evidence sufficient to convince the government that granting or restoring an access authorization “would not endanger the common defense and security and would be clearly consistent with the national interest.” 10 C.F.R. § 710.27(a).

Daniel L. Ellis has represented individuals in Security Clearance Hearings before Administrative Law Judges out of Washington, D.C., filed numerous appeals and several requests for Reconsideration.  He also helps individuals respond to both Summary of Security Concerns (Department of Energy Cases) and Statements of Reasons (Department of Defense – Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals).  He has also assisted first-time applicants understand the questions asked of them on their application forms (SF-86, e-QIP, QNSP). He has successfully represented individuals in cases dealing with criminal charges, financial difficulties, various psychological diagnoses, substance abuse issues (both alcohol and/or drug use) and other concerns. Every case is different, and the specific facts of each case can make a significant difference. Whether you are applying for a security clearance for the first time, or have had your security clearance been suspended, or just have questions — call us and schedule a consultation.

Daniel L. Ellis has been selected as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers and has been recognized as a “Top Rated Administrative Law Attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee”!
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