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Clearance Process

Using SECNAV M-5510.30, the Personnel Security Program manual, and associated executive orders and directives, DONCAF adjudicators, who receive both formal and recurring training throughout their careers, apply national adjudicative guidelines to background information gathered mainly in investigations conducted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The investigations contain information regarding an individual’s loyalty, character, reliability, trustworthiness, and honesty. Additional areas of concern include foreign connections, discharge of security responsibilities, alcohol or drug abuse, psychological conditions, financial responsibility, criminal conduct, misuse of information technology information, and various other areas of personal conduct. Sources of information include neighbors, co-workers, supervisors, law enforcement agencies, schools, doctors, credit bureaus, and from the subjects themselves.

All cases coded as issue-free by OPM are forwarded immediately upon receipt at the DONCAF to the Fast Track Team. If the background investigation provides no unfavorable information and the DONCAF has not received disqualifying information from other sources such as the individual’s command, the individual will be determined eligible for a security clearance. The DONCAF goal is to provide a clearance eligibility determination to the command on such investigations within 14 days of receipt.

Background investigations containing potentially disqualifying information are forwarded to one of ten teams that will make an adjudicative determination. If the investigation contains unresolved issues, the adjudicator may request additional information from OPM or the command to ensure sufficient information exists on which to base an adjudicative decision. If the investigation does contain unfavorable information, an adjudicator assigned to one of these teams reviews the potentially disqualifying information and balances that information against fact that might mitigate (tend to make less serious) the behavior. The adjudicator considers the seriousness of the behavior, when the behavior occurred, the frequency of the behavior, and the individual’s age, and may decide that the individual does not pose an unacceptable risk to national security.

In those instances where the decision is not favorable, the adjudicator prepares a recommendation to deny or revoke the clearance eligibility and forwards the recommendation to a senior adjudicator. To ensure that the decision to revoke or deny a clearance eligibility or SCI access eligibility is properly made, the case receives at least two levels of review. Senior supervisory personnel make the final determination regarding such denials or revocations. Once an individual has been notified of the DONCAF’s intent to revoke or deny clearance eligibility, he or she is afforded the opportunity to provide additional, clarifying information before a final decision is made. Final decisions by DONCAF to revoke or deny clearance eligibility or SCI access eligibility may be appealed in one of two ways. The individual may request a personal appearance before the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) who makes a recommendation to the DoN Personnel Security Appeals Board (PSAB), or, they may make a written appeal directly to PSAB. The PSAB’s finding ends the due process within the DON.

PRODUCTIVITY: In FY06, the DONCAF adjudicated 187,856 clearance eligibilities, which amounts to 24% of the DON end strength (771,181). In FY07 (to date), the DONCAF has adjudicated 130,716 clearance eligibilities. The projected amount of incoming cases in FY07 totals 230,000.

BACKLOG: The DONCAF adjudicative backlog, which peaked at 107,000 in March 2001, stood at 5,564 cases awaiting adjudication at the conclusion of FY06. DONCAF anticipates it will take approximately six months to overcome the backlog and reach the acceptable norm of 25,000 or less on-hand cases awaiting adjudication.

ADJUDICATIVE "LAPSE-TIME": The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Act (IRTPA) of 2004 requires 80% of initial security clearance adjudications to be completed within 30 days. In FY06 our lapse times were less than 20 days. During 2nd QTR FY07, our lapse times slightly exceeded the IRTPA requirement. The DONCAF is continuing to review its organizational structure and current business processes to ensure it has adequate capability to effectively and efficiently meet the needs of its customers and the war-fighting mission.