December 2019 — a Few Lessons learned

A few weeks ago the security clearance of Person A was restored after hearing at the Department of Hearing and Appeals before an Administrative Judge and a decision by the Personnel Security Board concurring with the decision of the Administrative Judge.  Person A had web surfed to shop, including retail, commercial adult only (not pornography) sites.  Disqualifying considerations include E (personal conduct) D (sexual behavior), and M (use of information technology).

The lesson learned is is do not use Government computers or work hours to web surf, or if you do web surf at work, take extreme care.  Pornography and adult only sites are opportunities for phising attempts and other malicious attacks, even for the innocent surfer.  Paying attention to ethics training also may avoid such offenses, and others.

I met this month with Person B who is about to lose a personnel security clearance after several years of financial difficulties. Guideline F is applicable. Many persons have financial issues.  Illness, divorce, loss of a job, and other events beyond the control of an individual can set them back.   For Person B,  the financial issues remain unresolved and answers to questions were not satisfactory.

Lesson learned:  Get organized, make a plan, and stay with the plan.  For example, get your credit reports and credit counseling.  Negotiate with creditors.  Ask your bank or credit union for credit counseling.  (Be very careful about credit counseling for which you pay money.)  If you have a security clearance, be wary of bankruptcy.  Multiple mitigating considerations may apply if the problem is approached correctly, and consistently.  This approach also may assist in answering questions of investigators.  (The advice of a personnel attorney also may be needed before answering questions, or a criminal attorney if your financial issues have caused or are the result from possible criminal offenses.)

Yesterday, I received a holiday message from Person C whose clearance was restored this month. A matter involving her husband and their common property were referred for criminal prosecution of him, not the spouse.
The security clearance of the spouse was suspended for reasons I will not get into here.

Lesson learned: Tell the truth. Proceed with care. Clear out any “underbrush” when possible, and in advance of a final decision on the clearance.

Happy 2020. I wish each of you a prosperous and happy year.

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