The client submits a written explanation of their situation. Consultant may request additional information or clarification from the client. Following a review of the submission, a 40 to 50 minute telephone consultation is conducted. The consultation will assess the client’s situation, identify the relative importance of the issues presented, and propose courses of action to deal with the issues. Estimate of costs for additional services will be provided, if needed.
The Q&A Service accepts written questions of up to 500 words regarding federal clearance processing, policies, procedures, and standards. The Q&A Service does not accept questions regarding a client’s chance of receiving a clearance or issue mitigation strategies. Answers will be provided in writing and limited to 250 to 500 words.
Clearance Application Assistance
Over 12% of all security clearance applications from contractor personnel are rejected due to improper or incomplete forms submission, resulting in delays ranging from four to eight weeks. The application forms provide no guidance regarding the inclusion of additional issue mitigation using either the “Optional Comments” fields or attachments. Additional information provided by the applicant can be critical to the granting of an interim clearance, the speed at which their case is processed, and the granting of a final clearance. This service will help applicants identify and properly articulate information that tends to mitigate security/suitability issues and recommend the best method of presenting this information in the clearance application form. It will also help applicants avoid the pitfalls of providing inaccurate or incomplete answers to questions on the forms, as well as the tendency to read too much into the questions.
(Estimated average range of charges: 3 to 10 hours)
Interim Clearance Issue Mitigation
Often clients must take certain actions prior to submitting a clearance application form, so that information regarding these actions can be included in the application form and thereby increase the possibility of receiving an interim clearance. Recommendations are made regarding actions that should be initiated and actions that should be completed prior to submitting a clearance application. The client is also given specific information on how the actions are accomplished. Assistance in preparing pertinent sections of the application form and/or attachments to the form is offered for an additional fee (see Clearance Application Assistance), once the actions have been initiated or completed.
(Estimated average range of charges: 2 to 7 hours)
Subject Interview Preparation
The Enhanced Subject Interview (ESI) is a standard component of most Personnel Security Investigations (PSI), and often it is an added component to other PSIs when security/suitability issues are present. The ESI is a wide-ranging interview that covers all questions on the clearance application form and numerous other questions with particular attention to issue-related information. After a review of the client’s clearance application form and the collection of additional information, clients are coached on how to answer pertinent questions truthfully and precisely without unnecessarily providing information that might tend to confuse or complicate the interview. Clients will also be advised about when to object to or request clarification of inappropriately worded questions. Clients are given instructions regarding mitigating information they should volunteer during the ESI and assistance in identifying and/or preparing any documents they should give to the investigator.
(Estimated average range of charges: 2 to 7 hours)
Written Interrogatory Response
The Written Interrogatory (WI) is usually the first method of communication between the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) and a security clearance applicant, when DOHA is unable to make a favorable clearance determination without additional information. Some federal agencies use a Letter Inquiry (LI) to accomplish the same purpose for employment suitability/fitness determinations. Failure to properly answer a WI results in either the issuance of a second WI or a “Letter of Intent” (LOI) to deny/revoke a clearance with a “Statement of Reasons” (SOR) and adds weeks or months to the adjudication process. Failure to properly respond to an LI results in employment disqualification or the issuance of a Notice of Proposed Action (NOPA) to disqualify an employment applicant. The response to a WI is submitted as a sworn affidavit, and as such applicants need professional assistance in their preparation. This service will provide a detailed review of the issues and obtain from the client all relevant information surrounding the issues. In many cases portions of the clearance application form may need to be reviewed. The service will provide the client a carefully crafted draft and final recommended response to the WI in affidavit format that accurately and completely answers, refutes, explains, extenuates, and/or mitigates all issues raised by the WI.
(Estimated average range of charges: 8 to 30 hours)
Statement of Reasons Response
When unmitigated potentially disqualifying issues are present in a case, many agencies issue a Statement of Reasons (SOR) as part of a Letter of Intent (LOI) to deny a clearance without first issuing a Written Interrogatory. The Notice of Proposed Action (NOPA) is similar to an SOR/LOI, but used for preliminary unfavorable federal employment suitability determinations. The response to an SOR or NOPA is best submitted as a sworn affidavit, and as such applicants need professional assistance in their preparation. This service will provide a detailed review of the issues and obtain from the client all relevant information surrounding the issues. In many cases portions of the clearance application form may need to be reviewed. The service will provide the client a carefully crafted draft and final recommended response to the SOR in affidavit format that accurately and completely answers, refutes, explains, extenuates, and/or mitigates all issues raised by the SOR or NOPA to maximum extent possible.
(Estimated average range of charges: 8 to 30 hours)
Hearing Preparation & Representation
When responding to a Statement of Reasons (SOR), Federal contractors have the right to request a hearing in front of an Administrative Judge. Often a well-crafted SOR response will result in the granting of a clearance without the need to appear at a hearing, even if a hearing is requested. When an SOR response is unsuccessful, the client can choose have a FEDCAS clearance consultant represent them at the hearing or to represent themselves. If they choose to represent themselves FEDCAS will advise them about hearing preparation, procedures and strategies, and help prepare witnesses and scripts for opening/closing statements and testimony. Clients in the Washington, D.C. area who are at the hearing stage and prefer to be represented by an attorney in their local area are referred to an attorney specializing in security clearances. At the client’s direction, the FEDCAS consultant will confer with the attorney and provide any assistance requested. Clients will deal directly with the attorney regarding fees for their services.
(Estimated average range of charges: 1 to 30 hours and/or a separate fee charged directly by an affiliated attorney)
Clearance Appeal Brief
When applicants are denied a security clearance following an SOR response or hearing, they are entitled to appeal the decision to a Personnel Security Appeal Board. Many appeals allow the applicant to restate their entire case and submit new mitigating information either in writing or at a “Personal Appearance” before an Administrative Judge or hearing panel. FEDCAS provides essentially the same services for “Personal Appearances” as it provides for hearings and essentially the same services for written appeals as it provides for SOR responses. Appeals of adverse decisions made by DOHA Administrative Judges can only be based on factual mistakes and procedural errors. This service is limited to writing an appeal brief regarding misapplication of clearance criteria and/or other procedural errors. Clients who prefer to be represented by an attorney at a “Personal Appearance” in the Washington, D.C. area are referred to an attorney specializing in security clearances. At the client’s direction, the FEDCAS consultant will confer with the attorney and provide any assistance requested. Clients will deal directly with the attorney regarding fees for their services.
(Estimated average range of charges: 1 to 30 hours and/or a separate fee charged directly by an affiliated attorney.)
Individual Self-Referred Clients are charged at a rate of $150 per hour for all consulting services except for the Security Clearance Q&A Service which has a fixed fee of $80, and the Security Clearance Assessment which has a fixed fee of $150. The Q&A Service and the Security Clearance Assessment are paid in advance at the time of registration and ordering. Upon completion of a Security Clearance Assessment, clients who elect to purchase additional services must pay 60% of the estimated cost at the time ordered and the balance immediately prior to delivery of the work product.
The estimated average range of charges for services varies greatly dependent upon the complexity and number of issues present in a case. A single minor issue will require the least amount of time, one or two moderate issues will take more time, and multiple major issues will require the most time. Some complex cases involving multiple major issues may exceed the estimated average range of charges.
Employer-Referred Clients services are billed to the sponsoring employer, or paid by the client and then reimbursed by the employer, in accordance with terms established between the employer and FEDCAS.
Employers interested in making FEDCAS services available to their employees should contact a FEDCAS Account Manager for information about pricing and payment terms.
FEDCAS is not engaged in rendering legal advice. If legal assistance is required, the services of a competent attorney specializing in security clearance law should be sought. Details regarding methods of service delivery, confidentiality, records retention and destruction, and limitations can be found at the Consulting Agreement.