Appealing a Suitability Denial

I won’t specify which agency but about 60 days ago, I submitted a written appeal after having my conditional offer of employment rescinded due to an apparent issue with my suitability as a potential employee.

Does anyone have any insight as to how long it typically takes to receive a response back, and what this process entails from start to finish?

I’m fully aware that this process might be slowed due to COVID-19, but alas, I’m still curious. Thanks for your help.

what agency is it? or what agency did your investigation?

Just to clarify, this wasn’t a clearance denial was it?

It was not, no. My COE was rescinded due to a suitability factor that I disagreed with, therefore I submitted a written appeal based on their instructions.

I dont think you have any recourse here. Sorry but this type of denial is not going to be appealed.

Perhaps you misunderstood what I said. I have already submitted an appeal. They gave me thirty days to appeal their decision in writing, which I’ve done.

I’m simply wondering if anyone has any input as to how long it takes for the agency to reply to my appeal. I understand there are certain time constraints when appealing a clearance denial, but this is different.

I think what @velcroTech is trying to show here is that, generally, suitability denials are not able to be appealed, especially with most IC agencies. Usually that’s made clear in a suitability denial; claiming you can’t appeal this decision, however, you can reapply in one year’s time.

The fact that you were even able to submit an appeal makes it seem like it may have been a clearance denial rather than a suitability denial, thus the further clarification about being certain what it was.

I know someone who was able to submit a suitability appeal to State Dept. So at least one agency allows an appeal.


I had the IC agencies in mind. I forgot that others come to this board. So there is a chance.

I think you are right about IC agencies not allowing suitability appeals… at least I have not heard of that being an option.

I’m 99% certain this was not a clearance denial, and I have good sources to support this. But even if it was, don’t agencies have an obligation to respond to an applicant within a certain timeframe once they submit their initial appeal?

I have read conflicting reports regarding this, so I’m a bit confused. There are many guidelines that must be abided by when an applicant is appealing a clearance denial, but information pertaining to a suitability appeal is much murkier.

Interesting! I wasn’t aware that other agencies we allowed that! Thank you to yourself and the OP for informing me of that!

For the sake of the OP’s original question, do you know if the timeline is similar to that of a more typical SOR appeal?

I received a letter stating my ineligibility for employment based on a specific reason, but this reason was not accompanied by a corresponding adjudicative guideline as is customary with a SOR.

It sounds like it very well could be a suitability denial: I just wasn’t aware that certain agencies allowed you to appeal those, so I apologize for the confusion!

I would imagine that they have response timelines similar to those of an SOR appeal, but honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was different. I would imagine that your appeal process itself would probably be fairly different as well… I’m curious to see how this comes out.

It’s definitely a suitability denial, but I was just curious if anyone had any input regarding the timeline of things, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case. From my understanding, SOR appeals have a timeline in which the corresponding agency must respond to you, but maybe suitability appeals don’t have the same stipulations.

The entire process has been very vague and opaque, but I wouldn’t expect anything less.

There are no published averages for the time it takes to make a decision for federal employment suitability/fitness. Anecdotally the time ranges from a week to several months with wide variances between different agencies. There’s no government-wide rule about how much time an agency is allowed to make this type of decision. Even for security clearances there is no government-wide rule. DoD Manual 5200.02 requires final security clearance decisions to be made within 60 days of receiving an SOR response, but DoD adjudicative facilities either don’t know about this rule or routinely ignore it.

Under Title 5 CFR Part 731 there is a right for applicants for federal “competitive” service appointments to have the agency review an initial unfavorable suitability decision and to appeal a final adverse decision to the Merit System Protection Board. There is no government-wide rule that affords any review/appeal rights to applicants for federal “excepted” service appointments and for contractors. Some agencies, like DoS and DHS, have their own regulations that afford limited “procedural due process” rights to contactors and excepted service applicants.

1 Like

This was immensely helpful! Thank you for chiming in, sir.

The position that was rescinded is an excepted service position, but they still afforded me appeal rights. Does this mean that the investigation based upon my appeal will occur internally within the agency without going through the MSPB?

If so, would that strengthen or lessen my chances for a successful appeal?

Thank you again!

Also, assuming the appeal is successful, what happens after that point? Do I move on to the adjudication stage?

For me, it is a curious case. The agency pegged me with an alcohol abuse problem, but by every measurable aspect, this is not true. Functionally, I didn’t even drink until I was 22 and I am now 26. I have never had an alcohol related incident such as a DUI, DWI, public intoxication, etc, nor can I think of a single person who would tell an investigator that I’ve exhibited signs of alcohol abuse.

If you reported having more than 3 drinks at a time, that could be the issue.