What is a Statement of Reasons (SOR)?

By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com

We are often asked what is a Statement of Reasons (SOR) in the context of a security clearance matter.  A SOR is merely the basis for government security concerns about holding a security clearance.  Generally, an SOR lists specific issues of concern under the Adjudicative Guidelines. The concerns listed in an SOR, if left unaddressed, will likely lead to the loss of a security clearance.  We thought that we would provide a sample of what an SOR looks like for a government contractor.

What Does a SOR Look Like?

Although the format varies between federal agencies, here is an example of a sample SOR from the Department of Defense Consolidated Adjudications Facility (DoD CAF). A SOR tends to provide a fairly specific description of the conduct at issue, but not very much information about how to respond to the concerns.  An individual is often confused about the level of detail or even how to respond to the SOR.  In short, it is important to have legal advice and/or legal representation in responding to the SOR.  The example that follows is a general example of what an individual might receive if they are issued a SOR:


A review of your eligibility for security clearance has been made pursuant to Executive Order 10865 (as amended) and as implemented by DoD Directive 5220.6, dated, January 2, 1992 (as amended).  Because this office is unable to find that it is clearly consistent with the national interest to grant you access to classified information, your case will be submission to an Administrative Judge for a determination as to whether or not to grant, deny or revoke your security clearance.  This determination is based on the following reasons.

Guideline E: Conduct involving questionable judgment, lack of candor, dishonesty, or unwillingness to comply with rules and regulations can raise questions about an individual’s reliability, trustworthiness and ability to protect classified information.  Of special interest is any failure to provide truthful and candid answers during the security clearance process or any other failure to cooperate with the security clearance process.  Available information raising this concern shows that:

     a. On June 1, 2018, you were terminated from your employment as an auditor for Electric Sciences and Development Company for taking computer files that you claimed were your own from your workplace.

     b. On January 5, 2017, you were charged with disturbing the peace by the Arlington County Police Department.

     c. You falsified material facts in an Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP), Standard Form 86, certified by you on November 11, 2015, when, in response to Section 22, Police Record (EVER) – Summary do you have any other offenses to list where the following has EVER happened to you? Have you Ever been charged with an offense involving alcohol or drugs,” you deliberately failed to disclose the information set forth in subparagraph 2.a. below.

Guideline H: Use of an Illegal drug or misuse of a prescription drug can raise questions about an individual’s reliability and trustworthiness, both because it may impair judgment and because it raises questions about a person’s ability to comply with laws, rules and regulations.  Available information raise this concerns shows that:

     a. You illegally used marijuana 2 times during the month of January of 2014.  

The Adjudicative Guidelines cited above were implemented for the Department of Defense by the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence on August 30, 2006 and made effective for any Statement of Reasons issued on or after September 1, 2006.  A copy of DoD Directive 5220.6 is continued in this packages and the Guidelines can be found at Enclosure 2 of the Directive.

Jim Smith

Personnel Security Specialist

Responding to the SOR

It is important to timely respond to the SOR when received.  Generally, the deadline for responding is 20 days from receipt of the SOR. If a response is untimely, it may not be considered which could lead to a loss of clearance. The format of the response generally includes a full response to the alleged security concerns, along with relevant documentation (affidavits, declarations, other important documents). We usually recommend that the hearing option be selected in responding, as opposed to providing a written response. The response is completed, notarized and then submitted to DoD CAF. Following a response, if the response is substantial enough to resolve the security issues, the clearance issues are resolved. If not, the matter will move forward to a hearing or the written response process before the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA), depending on what option has been selected.


If you need assistance in preparing a response to a Statement of Reasons (SOR), please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

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