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Could a furlough cost you your clearance?


In response to an article about growing criticism of the then-future sequester, Bob Christian wrote: Since many of us federal workers live from paycheck to paycheck, will it affect our security clearance if we let the bank repossess some of our property, such as vehicles, due to the 20-percent cut in our weekly salary?

Matthew Weigelt responds: Don’t stress yourself about it, Bob, at least that’s what John Palguta, vice president for policy at the Partnership for Public Service, says. Financial difficulty due to furloughs, even if it results in the repossession of a vehicle, is not automatically grounds for loss of a security clearance, he said.

Agencies often do checks every five years. If officials uncover some information about repossession, they would evaluate information and its context of what was happening at the time. They will then determine whether it indicates an employee has a personal problem, such as a gambling compulsion or a drinking problem, for example. Something like that might indeed be grounds for a revocation.

But "if the financial difficulty is due to an unpaid furlough, that could well be a mitigating factor and the security clearance would be retained," Palguta said.

He also suggested warning a higher-up about what is happening so it doesn’t appear that there was something hidden. Being upfront about financial troubles, especially those brought on by circumstances beyond your control, can help protect your security clearance.

Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Mar 05, 2013 at 12:10 PM

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Reader comments

Wed, Mar 6, 2013

A furlough will not automatically hit you in the security clearance area. What will is missing payments on things; so if that is a potential risk area, then you notifying your military and civilian counterpart superiors immediately is the risk mitigation aspect. This will preclude derogatory information being generated as it relates to your clearance.

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 earth

Being told the government doesn’t intend to kick people in the OOs after throwing them under a buss ought to make them feel much better. NOT! Losing your security clearance after having your car repossessed is the least of the worries. Being able to get to work, any other work included, would seem much more stressful.

The smart government worker has already put in job applications and this ought to make congress proud at what the effect on government capabilities and efficiencies will likely result from this. Those that are willing to ride this out to retirement will stay. But recruitment and retention of young replacements for the retirees just took a major hit at a time when it is needed most. Institutional knowledge will be retained at a much lower rate now.

Wed, Mar 6, 2013

Saddly there apears to be truth in the last comment, but , it is too mild. This year theyy take 20 % on top of our taxes to state and federal of 30% when adde to retirement, health care etc. we are effectively paying 50% taxes and living off of 30% OF OUR SALARY!

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 Bob

Be cautious before 100% heeding this article. My room mate had his home repossessed during the mortgage crisis and lost his security clearance, despite having been very up-front about it to his superiors and despite it very clearly not being a case of irresponsibility. He was offered a very highly paying contractor position just after the clearance was revoked and was denied the job because of his clearance. The Government later reinstated the clearance, admitting that there were extenuating circumstances (some of them even related to having been deployed) but only after he had been significantly harmed. It took something like a year for DoD to sort it out.

Wed, Mar 6, 2013

Now that the Congress and the President has written us off as a way to pay for their mistakes. We are on our own to try and survive with less and less every day. We are having to pay more for everyday things like food, medical visits, utilities, gas like the rest of america. But it doesn't seem to bother them that we have been paying for their mistakes for 3 years already and now we have to take away 20% of our income. What about giving us a break. We are just ponds in a sea of miss managed wars, bail outs, and spending like there is no tomorrow suporting all or the other countries with millions in aids when we can't take care of our own. I have desided it is time for me to find a empolyer that appreciates my work or any other DoD civilians work because its a fact that no one in washington cares about what any of us do for them!!!

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