Obtaining Security Clearance

Employment Misconduct Issues and Your Security Clearance

Demonstrating good judgment and reliability by following rules and procedures in the workplace is a significant factor for determining eligibility for access to national security information, as a recent DoD security clearance applicant found out. In this particular Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals case, the employee was issued a statement of reasons for a pattern of a failure to follow rules in employment resulting in terminations. The judge also considered the applicant’s inconsistent statements and lack of full disclosure about the details of the incidents that resulted in his getting fired from two jobs.

Workplace Issues and Your Clearance

This type of issue falls under Personal Conduct in the adjudicative guidelines and evaluates a person’s honesty, integrity, judgment, trustworthiness, and reliability. When related specifically to employment or work performance, multiple issues like a rebellious attitude towards management, failure to follow rules, lying to cover up mistakes, tardiness, or safety violations all lend to a pattern of dishonesty, irresponsibility, and untrustworthiness. This is not to say that anyone who is terminated from employment will get denied a clearance. The key point to take away is this: If you are following the rules at work and there are no misconduct issues that led to termination, it will not reflect negatively on you as long as you provide full disclosure when required.

The problem we have these days with getting accurate and honest feedback about an applicant from employers during background investigations is the recent trend of corporate policies that limit what information is released for fear of lawsuit. As a result, we are left with minimal information that just checks the block. Even Federal agencies seem reluctant to provide full disclosure for fear that a former employee will bring an EEO or MSPB complaint. Speaking of MSPB, it is my opinion that regardless of whatever settlement agreement terms are negotiated in an MSPB case, full disclosure of the circumstances of their termination should be required if that individual applies for another federal position, clearance requirement or not. Many agencies settle cases so they can cut their ties with the individual and move on. This would prevent a lot of personnel baggage being passed around from one agency to another.

Comment Archive

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    I understand that it is common practice in some prestigious organizations to give good recommendations for former employees, especially bad apples to get rid of them. Records are more reliable than personal references, but derogatory info is often redacted or kept in shadow files where an investigator can see them. Ironically, from my experience, this is more common with companies/orgs that do classified contract work. I know of a specific major DoD contractor facility that uses shadow files for employee misconduct and security issues/violations. I found this out by already knowing about an employment/security incident and not finding this info in the file. After a lot of pursuit and patience and questions I got into. All of it? I don’t know. I’ve talked with OPM and DSS people who acknowledged they know about this practice (but they don’t seem to care too much about it, so I shouldn’t be).

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    Corrections: kept in a shadow file where an investigator CAN’T see them.

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    This article from last month:

    OPM Seeks to Revamp Hiring Background Checks