Applicants & Holders - Procedural fairness & decision review

Procedural fairness is an administrative law principle. The principle ensures that a fair and proper procedure is followed when making a decision, which may negatively affect a security clearance applicant. Procedural fairness applies to a decision to deny, revoke or vary a security clearance.

AGSVA applies the two primary rules of procedural fairness to our assessments:

  • The hearing rule: the person has the opportunity to be heard and express their views to a decision maker
  • The bias rule: the decision maker must be impartial

How does procedural fairness apply?

If AGSVA intends to make a decision which will negatively affect you, you will have the opportunity to respond in writing before a final decision is made.

A Procedural Fairness Letter will be provided to you with a summary of AGSVAs concerns related to your suitability to hold or retain a security clearance. 

In your response you may provide information to correct any errors of fact, details of any special circumstances which you believe need to be take into account or provide further evidence relevant to the concerns which may provide sufficient mitigation to grant or continue the clearance.

 If you are an existing clearance holder your sponsoring entity may be given a summary of the concerns to enable them to manage any risk to National Security while the Procedural Fairness process is underway. Your consent for this is obtained at the beginning of the clearance process.

Prior the final decision, the decision maker will review all of the information, including your response in full.

If you choose not to respond, the decision maker can make a decision without your participation.

If you need further assistance, contact your security advisor in the first instance.

If you have received notification that your clearance application is denied or revoked, in accordance with the Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) you can ask for a review of the decision.

If you are an:

APS employee: you have three review options

  • Primary review by AGSVA – you have 120 days from the decision notification to request a review
  • Secondary review by the Merit Protection Commissioner – if you are unsatisfied with the AGSVA review or the decision is not reviewable. you have 60 days from the decision of the primary review to make an application
  • Lodge a complaint with the Commonwealth Ombudsman – the Ombudsman will generally only investigate if the other review processes have been completed

ADF member: you have two review options

  • Internal review – you must follow the procedures outlined in the Defence Complaints and Resolution Manual
  • Defence Force Ombudsman – you can seek a review of the decision by the Ombudsman

Non-APS employee: you have two review options

  • Internal review by AGSVA
  • Lodge a complaint with the Commonwealth Ombudsman – the Ombudsman will generally only investigate if the other review process has been completed