Over on ClearanceJobs Blog Marko Hakamaa reports on a recently passed Senate bill that would give the ax to federal employees found falsifying security clearance background investigations. The law seems targeted to background investigators, in the wake of claims that reports were falsified and pushed through without review. But it could also apply to those found falsifying information on their applications.
The law still has to head to the House and be signed by the President, but there is strong support for security clearance reform on both sides of the aisle. Congress has been debating possible reforms over the past year and a half – long before Edward Snowden leaked millions of classified documents and background investigation firm USIS got the boot for allegedly circumventing required procedures.
“USIS management devised and executed a scheme to deliberately circumvent contractually required quality reviews of completed background investigations in order to increase the company’s revenues and profits,” alleged a Justice Department complaint.
The overall impact of the new bill is of minimal concern to the background investigation community – if falsifying reports is your MO, you shouldn’t expect a long tenure in federal service. Applied to security clearance applicants, however, the bill has greater impact. A common security clearance concern is poor memory – that suddenly improves during a background investigation interview or polygraph. ‘Oh, you meant never EVER smoked marijuana? Well, there was that ONE time in college, I guess. I just forgot.”
In general, the same issues often ‘omitted’ on an SF-86 wouldn’t result in actual clearance denial. In some cases, an individual may even be encouraged to lie or mislead. In all of these cases, the Security Clearance Accountability, Reform and Enhancement Act should serve as a good reminder – falsify information on your SF-86 and you might just be out a clearance, you could be denied government work for three years. It should offer a pretty strong deterrent for those made aware of the repercussions – should it be signed into law.