Security Clearance Denial

The Truth is Easier to Remember

Everybody knows the saying “the truth is easier to remember than keeping up with the lies you told.” This concept escaped a DoD contractor who lost her clearance and subsequent appeal. Amazingly, she was also a Navy Reserve Intelligence Officer who had held a clearance since 1986. Here is how it went down:

In 2014 this cleared federal contractor fell ill a few weeks prior to taking annual vacation time and had to take additional time off work. However, she didn’t have enough earned sick/vacation leave to cover both time periods. The two week vacation was long-planned and paid for and she didn’t just want to cancel it. Without telling her boss or getting approval, she concocted an idea that she would go ahead and bill for the time she was out sick, take her vacation leave, and then come back and make up the hours she missed. I can already hear you asking “What’s the big deal?”

Well, the company thought it was a big deal and terminated her from employment for filing false timecard information. Four months later she got another job that required a clearance and underwent a periodic reinvestigation. Instead of being up front and honest about the circumstances of leaving her previous employment, she answered “no” to the relevant questions about terminations and discipline. During her initial interview with the background investigator she failed to mention it. Three months later the same background investigator, now armed with the adverse employment information, contacted her again for a follow-up interview and directly asked her if she had ever been terminated from employment. Her answer was still “no” even after the investigator showed her that her previous employer had provided the adverse information regarding the time card fraud. Soon after the 2nd interview she contacted the investigator and asked for another follow-up. Finally, in the 3rd interview she confessed to lying about it for fear of losing her current job. The DOHA judge was unsympathetic; here is his synopsis of the appeal denial:

“When the multiple falsifications are considered together with Applicant’s intentional violation of her previous employer’s time and attendance policy, an incident that is neither disqualifying under any other guideline nor enough to warrant disqualification on its own, the record supports a negative whole-person assessment of Applicant’s judgment, and trustworthiness.

The underlying conduct, the policy violation itself is an isolated incident and is mitigated by the passage of time. However, Applicant’s falsification of her July 2014 security clearance application and her repeated false statements to an investigator, despite being confronted with evidence of her misconduct cannot be considered minor. Despite being given multiple opportunities to correct her false statement, Applicant only took steps to do so after she realized the investigator had direct evidence of her lies.”

The bottom line up front here is that had she been honest about the termination, it in and of itself would not have been a serious enough issue to result in a clearance denial. Her repeated dishonesty is what did her in!