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Could a furlough cost you your clearance?

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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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