How You Respond to a SOR
You are making your way through the Security Clearance application process when you feel as though you hit an impassible roadblock… the adjudicators have sent you a Statement of Reasons (SOR). The SOR is a preliminary decision to deny or revoke a clearance and includes an explanation of why granting you a clearance is not “clearly consistent with the interests of national security.”
Do not panic! Do not fall apart!
Yes, it is not an approval and is disappointing; but it does not have to be the final decision. You have recourse. The first step requires you to respond… and, how you respond to a SOR can make all the difference.
If you receive a SOR, it will be sent to your Facility Security Officer (FSO) in a double envelope. The sealed inner envelope will be given to you unopened. The outer envelope will contain a letter that you must sign and date; thus, acknowledging receipt of the inner envelope. Your FSO will return the original receipt to DOD CAF. From here, you have 20 days from the date you signed for receipt to submit a written response to the SOR. Failure to respond will result in your security clearance being denied or revoked without further consideration (extensions may be applied for under certain circumstances).
How you respond to a SOR should be specific and complete. Follow all instructions included on the cover letter with the SOR packet and include all requested forms and information.
The SOR will quote each applicable security concern as listed in the Adjudicative Guidelines. You will have an opportunity to respond to or counter each concern. The instructions will instruct you to provide additional information that explains, refutes, extenuates, or mitigates the [allegations].” It should be noted that you must provide adequate “additional information” in order to have a chance of having your case favorably resolved at this stage. Again, a successful resolution is larger determined by how you respond to a SOR; wording, supplemental backup, and information is vital.
Although the cover letter to the SOR does not specifically ask for them, expansive supporting documentation can make all the difference; including, but not limited to, attesting to your judgment, reliability and trustworthiness from people who know you well, documents that show professional/academic achievements, examples of constructive community involvement, proof of honorable military service, and more.
For most individuals going through this process, it is beneficial to schedule a brief consultation with or to hire a security clearance attorney to provide case specific guidance and/or help you prepare your specific SOR response.
Remember, the receipt of a SOR does not have to be the end of your security clearance journey. How you respond to a SOR can make all the difference. We can help!