The honesty policy
- By Milt x_Zall
- Oct 16, 2000
A recent case decided by the Federal Court of Appeals underscores the importance
of telling the truth on a federal job application.
The case in point involves Gerrick Craine, a former Army employee. In
November 1997, the Army hired Craine as a heavy mobile equipment repairer.
As part of the application process leading up to his employment, Craine
completed a "Declaration for Federal Employment," in which he was asked,
"During the last 10 years, have you been convicted, been imprisoned, been
on probation, or been on parole?"
If the answer was "Yes," the form requested detailed information. Craine
checked the box labeled "No." He also signed a certification indicating
he understood that a false or fraudulent answer to any question in the declaration
could be grounds for not hiring him, for firing him or for prosecuting him.
After Craine was hired, the Army asked the Office of Personnel Management
to conduct a security background investigation of him. As part of that investigation,
Craine completed a form titled, "Questionnaire for National Security Positions."
In that questionnaire, Craine said that he had never been charged with or
convicted of a felony and had never been charged with or convicted of any
offense related to alcohol. Craine signed the form's certification, similar
to the one mentioned above.
OPM's investigation revealed that Craine was no choirboy. He was convicted
in 1993 for driving while intoxicated, convicted in 1996 for battery, arrested
in 1997 for battery, and arrested and convicted in 1998 in connection with
the 1997 battery charge. He was jailed for 60 days.
After obtaining the information, OPM notified Craine that he was unsuitable
for federal employment because he had intentionally made false or deceptive
statements in job-related documents by knowingly omitting pertinent information
concerning his criminal record. Craine was fired; then he appealed OPM's
determination to the Merit Systems Protection Board.
Craine admitted that he hadn't filled out the forms properly but said
he hadn't understood the questions. Yeah, right. The MSPB said there was
no evidence to support what Craine maintained and said he was lying. That
made him unsuitable for federal service and therefore it was proper for
the Army to fire him.
Craine then appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals. The court made
short shrift of Craine's appeal. It also found nothing to support Craine's
allegation and upheld the MSPB's decision.
Craine was foolish to have expected that his criminal record would not
surface. After all, his job required a security clearance, and that means
a full background investigation. Crane got what he deserved — nothing less.
I hope everyone gets the message: Don't lie on a federal job application.
Zall is a retired federal employee who since 1987 has written the Bureaucratus
column for Federal Computer Week. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Putting your faith in trusts, trustees" [FCW.com, Oct. 6, 2000] /fcw/articles/2000/1002/web-zall-10-06-00.asp
"What protection" [Federal Computer Week, Sept. 18, 2000] /fcw/articles/2000/0918/mgt-milt-09-18-00.asp