Current Federal Adjudicative Guidelines were issued in August 2006 for use in making determinations about an individual’s eligibility for a security clearance and access to classified information. Since November 2004, the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA) has also used the federal adjudicative guidelines in contractor cases involving trustworthiness determinations, also known as ‘Positions of Public Trust‘. Recently, DOHA has established that the industrial security clearance review program due process is going to be extended to the Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 (HSPD-12) and Common Access Card (CAC) holders who face denial or revocation. That means the same processes of review available to clearance holders are also available to those in public trust positions who face denial or revocation of a security clearance.
Adjudicative guideline F, Financial Considerations, covers an array of conduct, behavior and actions that could reflect negatively on an individual’s ability to protect classified information.
Financial Considerations and Personal Conduct – Case No. 14-01384
Applicant is a 54-year-old employee of a defense contractor applying for a Public Trust Position. After completion of her background investigation, the Department of Defense Consolidated Adjudication Facility (DoDCAF) issued a Statement of Reasons (SOR) in July 2014 alleging security concerns under Guidelines E (Personal Conduct) and F. The applicant answered the SOR in August 2014, electing to have her case decided on the written record. She was provided a copy of the File of Relevant Material (FORM) and she submitted additional information but had no objections to the material used in the initial action.
In 1987, the applicant was arrested for perjury, fraudulently obtaining aid and aiding fraud. In 1989, she was arrested for unlawful food stamps and fraud. The court disposition of these charges was not contained in the background investigation. Applicant reported that her husband at the time was trying to gain custody of her children and his mother contacted police to implicate the applicant in the crimes. In 1994 and 1995, Applicant was arrested for multiple counts of worthless check. She reported that her boyfriend at the time took her checkbook and wrote the checks without her knowledge. Court documents reflect that she was found guilty, fined and required to pay restitution. She filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2004 which was subsequently dismissed. She filed Chapter 7 again in 2005 which was discharged in December 2005. Credit reports from 2013, 2014 and 2015 reflected numerous delinquent medical debts totaling approximately $12,278.00. Additional debts for student loans were listed as delinquent on one credit report, but subsequently listed as in forbearance status.
The DOHA Administrative Judge (AJ) decided that the alleged criminal conduct happened under unique circumstances and due to the passage of time, security concerns from such conduct are mitigated. However, the AJ noted that the applicant’s continued accumulation of delinquent debt after completion of her bankruptcy, coupled with the fact that she has been employed since 2012 and has not made an effort to contact her creditors and attempt to resolve her debts reflect her financial problems are not under control. The AJ concluded that the applicant has not mitigated the security concerns under the financial considerations guideline and leaves questions and doubts about her eligibility and suitability for a public trust position.
I agree completely with the AJ in this case. Although filing bankruptcy is a legal, responsible way to address indebtedness, an individual’s continued accumulation of delinquent and unpaid debt reflects an inability to manage their financial affairs and raises questions regarding their reliability, trustworthiness and ability to protect classified or sensitive information. Of note is the fact that the applicant did not have an attorney represent her. Perhaps some solid legal advice could have helped her mitigate her financial issues.