DOHA, Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals, is the largest component of the Defense Legal Services Agency and is charged with many responsibilities.
Among other duties, DOHA provides hearings, listens to appeals, and issues decisions in personnel security clearance cases for contractor personnel doing classified work for all DoD components and the other Federal Agencies and Departments.
As in life, not every application for security clearance is perfectly clean. If you have controversial or questionable actions in your past, then the person evaluating your application will consider the following:
- Nature and extent of the conduct
- Circumstances surrounding the conduct
- Frequency of the conduct
- Age and maturity at the time of the conduct
- Extent to which participation was voluntary
- Presence or absence of rehabilitation and other permanent behavioral changes
- Motivation for the conduct
- Potential for pressure, coercion, exploitation, or duress
- Likelihood of recurrence of the conduct
If your initial or ongoing security clearance has been denied or revoked, then your case may be appealed to the DOHA.
The Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) adjudicators will determine whether it is consistent with the national interest to grant or continue your security clearance. If the DOHA adjudicators cannot make a decision, the case is then sent to an Administrative Judge (AJ) at DOHA. The DOHA hearing is not a criminal hearing. The DOHA hearing is not a civil hearing.
During the DOHA Hearing, you can expect the following process:
- Opening arguments/statement – The government will go first and then applicant. No evidence introduced.
- Evidence from both sides – This is the time to introduce mitigating circumstances, call witnesses, and submit sworn character reference letters.
- Closing arguments – Both sides will state arguments for the judge to consider; no more evidence will be submitted or introduced at this time
If your security clearance is still denied or revoked, then you have 15 days to submit an appeal. The Appeal Board will review your case. The decision of the Appeal Board is final.
If the final decision by DOHA is to deny/revoke the clearance eligibility, then you may go through a re-application process one year after the decision date.
A security clearance attorney can help you respond to and work with DOHA as you navigating through the final steps in getting and maintaining your security clearance.