Security Clearance Denial

Lying about Why You Left Previous Employment is Never Good

Anyone who has filled out a Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86) is familiar with the section where you must list all previous employments in the past seven years and why you left. It is pretty straightforward and branching questions ask about being fired, leaving employment under mutual agreement after being told you would be fired or due to specific problems. Yet, it still amazes me how many security clearance and public trust applicants fail to disclose issues or the true reason they left previous employment, perhaps thinking the background investigation won’t catch it.

This exact scenario played out in a recent Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Hearing and Appeals case where a security clearance applicant failed to disclose the true reasons for leaving employment from a municipal government. Turns out, the applicant was under investigation by state officials after it was discovered by the Financial Director there were accounts under the control of the applicant with unusual activities, such as no receipts filed, missing funds, and checks written by the applicant to himself. The applicant was brought in for questioning by state investigators and resigned after being confronted with the issues and refusing to provide information. To add icing on the cake, investigators doing the forensic analysis on his work computer also found pornographic material.

When questioned by the background investigator about the circumstances of leaving this employment he again denied having any issues there and stated he resigned because of dissatisfaction with the work environment and wanting a better job. He also initially denied ownership of the pornography on his computer, but eventually admitted they were his. A litany of excuses and backtracking followed at the appeal hearing after the local security office denied clearance eligibility. I find it absolutely astounding this applicant thought he had a leg to stand in submitting an appeal after the initial denial.

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