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DSS Notice Regarding Secession Petitions
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On 16 November 2012 the following was posted on the Defense Security Service (DSS) website under “User/System Alerts:”

 

DSS Notice Regarding Secession Petitions

November 16, 2012

DSS personnel have recently received questions from security personnel at cleared contractors about whether contractors should file adverse information reports pursuant to NISPOM paragraph 1-302 regarding cleared persons who sign petitions to allow a state to withdraw or secede from the United States.

It also appears that erroneous statements have been made to the effect that DSS is directing contractors to treat the signing of such petitions as reportable adverse information.

Please note that DSS has not provided any approved direction or guidance. DSS is not directing any contractor to file adverse information reports regarding persons who have signed secession or withdrawal petitions. This issue is under review and DSS will provide information to contractors when that review is complete.

This notice is about the recent petitions posted at the White House’s “We the People” website.  According to a 15 November 2012 Washington Post article, petitions have been initiated by people in all 50 states and six of those petitions have reached the 25,000-signature threshold requiring a response from an administration official.

Since the petitions have no legal effect, it’s hard to imagine DSS taking more than a couple of minutes to “review” the situation before advising Facility Security Officers (FSOs) that there is no need to submit an adverse information Report (Incident Report) regarding any of their employees who simply sign one of these petitions.  It’s unclear what provision of DOD 5200.2-R or the Adjudicative Guidelines an FSO might think makes this type of conduct reportable under the NISPOM.  It’s not an “Allegiance” or “Foreign Preference” issue—at least not until there is a country to which someone wants to transfer their allegiance or they express an intent to renounce U.S. citizenship.  Unless it involves violating the law, exercising your First Amendment rights of free speech and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances shouldn’t be reportable conduct under the NISPOM.

I’m reminded of what Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) said when she was mayor of San Francisco and facing a recall petition: “In San Francisco you can get 30,000 people to sign a petition to put overhead sewer lines on Market Street.”  I don’t think anyone is taking these petitions as a serious secessionist movement.  It’s just a way to let off steam.



  1. The author stated “Unless it involves violating the law, exercising your First Amendment rights of free speech and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances shouldn’t be reportable conduct under the NISPOM.”

    But fails to mention the agreement the individuals undertook with the government when they were granted their clearances. A redress of of grievances is fair, but that requires working within the constitution. Secession is not a redress of greivances, at least that is what I would think the 620,000 americans that died during the Civil War would tell you.

    History has shown that we should not take such occurances at any less that the face-value of their stated objectives). If the request is for sucession, than that is the objective. Sigining such a document is advocating a set of loyalties to something other than the Consititution of the United States of America by definition.

    Lincoln did not take such talk as an idle threat, why would we suggest any less today. Much like Licoln’s time, if you don’t like the United States you have options, but secession is not one of them (that was settled a long time ago).

  2. Anbody know what it means in PIPS when it shows the status as the case as “CA Considered” ? There’s a rather interesting case I had a long time ago that I’ve never gotten a 30 days/case closed message for, and I check it out from time to time on PIPS out of curiosity. The most recent event is shown as “refiled.” Anybody know what either of those things means?

  3. OPM uses CA when all pending field (OPM conducted)leads are completed but the case still has other leads outstanding (OPM is awaiting a response from another agency). Technically the case is still open but OPM has done all it can do on the investigation. Since incomplete investigations can not be reviewed for a security clearance, the investigation will remain open until OPM receives a response from the other agency. Refiled means the case is pending and has been returned to the documents section until the remaining leads come in.

  4. No better place to learn new things.

  5. There is usually a bit of truth at the core of every rumor. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a few clearances suspended or revoked as a punitive response to signing one or more secession petitions.

  6. If you sign a petition to have your state secede, then you should not be able to retain your clearance. Obtaining a clearance means you are to uphold laws and regulations of the U.S. Government.

  7. I recently had a case where Sub. cancelled the interview 75% into providing testimony…I guess 3.5 hours and 31 financial items is too much for someone to sit through.

  8. Learn something new every time I check this. I had the joy of 6 spins last week while training a newbie. 5 of them with developed MEDI items. They were all here too so I couldn’t just pawn them off in extensions. It’s a fine line trying to explain to a new person that you have to reconcile a start date in a resi to match exactly the start date of a duty station in a way that makes them realize you actually do have to do it without sounding like you really think it has anything to do with adjudicative criteria. Fort Bliss is a beast for that

  9. So the word on the street is that the contractors can’t meet the deadlines, so they’re going to be getting the Phased and PR work while the Feds are going to get the initials. Anyone else hear anything like that?

    Also heard USIS lost some part of the contract.

    That’s my update from the rumor mill so take it for what it’s worth, probably not much.

  10. Fed,

    Haven’t heard anything yet, but my guess is–this system will implode within a year. I think it may have gotten out of control with too much work, not enough time. Just my .02

    I’m sensing a thinning of the herd just like 2007. Subs beware.

  11. Who would have thought putting ridiculously short and arbitrary deadlines to close cases would have caused such problems?

    hahahaha

  12. We’re only allowed to work initial cases through the end of the year. Maybe my company is trying to prove something to the Feds? Now, if the contracting companies would just pay us contractors a little more… Been making about the same $ since I’ve been doing this many years ago but the requirements are so much more time consuming.

  13. what I heard is that OPM is paying a premium to work initial cases in December because they are behind. the do not want any updates, phase prs or sbi prs assigned.

  14. We were told to work only initial cases between 12/3 and 12/21. We are only allowed to work PRs if we’re afraid that the case will miss the CD. The excuse we were given is that we need to work initials because of the fact that the last two weeks of the year will be, as they always are, next to impossible to find people to interview. But I’ve been doing this long enough now to know that the money trail is better with initial cases and I’m sure that OPM is doing some politicking with its three contractors.

  15. I heard the same as contract investigator and TW. The only re-up’s I have now are either past cd or close to it. On another rumor mill I heard that OPM is only hiring vets and no longer hiring anyone from USIS- does anyone on here know for sure? I am swimming in spins right now, easy cash I guess. Had a an initial SSBI today and had to rewind
    my thoughts to get leads. Of course all the field work is done everywhere else and pretty much all rt uc’d anyway. Just love it when u start a case with 10 messages on it that all start with “ESI investigator please extend for blah blah blah”

  16. Typingit out

    It’s not just OPM–it’s an initiative govt wide. If qualified, the 30% or more disabled vets are scoring higher and pushed through based on the extra 10 points we get when scored against the job. Most jobs are not even open to anyone outside of the govt or disabled vets. You will still find some jobs open to all US citizens.

    I am a 20 year vet and I disagree with the policy–just because you didn’t serve, doesn’t mean you are any less patriotic. Also, we served of our own free will and I’m not sure that qualifies us for any special pref. Just my .02

  17. I put in for a recent federal opening, marked myself as “expert” on all the questions. Even with 6.5 years doing the work, was not referred… I’m not a former fed or a vet…

  18. Contractor,

    Now you see the problem–the vets points will trump in scoring. As with most govt jobs, almost all applicants lie on the questionnaires to get referred. This is a well-known fact.

  19. I had to apply through an open position for a lateral transfer to another part of the state.

    I didn’t get referred either.

  20. I met woman a few years ago who was a support person for a federal law enforcement agency in the 1990′s. She left in the late 1990′s and has been a stay at home mom ever since. Zero experience that was even remotely relevant to investigation experience. She put in for, was referred and was interviewed for a federal position. It wasn’t her cup of tea so she turned it down when they offered it to her. Boggles the mind.

  21. Hey All,

    So what’s this I hear – USIS lost a percentage of the OPM contract? Anyone have the scuttlebutt?

    USIS must be experiencing major financial problems; they suspended 401K matching and their health insurance premiums have skyrocketed (the only PPO offered for 2013 is $678.51 monthly for employee only and $1,764.14 monthly for a family). Anyone working at USIS knows that $1,764.14 is roughly one entire bi-weekly paycheck for a Senior Investigator. IT’S SHAMEFUL!

  22. Does anyone know what impact the fiscal cliff will have on investigations. I assumed they would resolve this, but now it does not seem as likely.

  23. My sister works in hiring at a division of NIH. She said an applicant was a veteran who lied during the interview, had a online college diploma from a for-profit school, and had a questionable background. My sister’s boss said that their hands are tied and they must offer the job to the veteran instead of the other applicants (highly-experienced, elite college graduates).

  24. Contract Inv,

    Don’t let these political morons fool you. This so-called cliff is no more than budget cuts (Forced) because they are too inept to claim them. Some dept’s may be effected, but most have already laid-out their gameplans to avoid stoppage.

  25. MY BAD!

    The USIS 2013 health insurance rates I mentioned above (Dec 2nd post) are for a different division of USIS – NOT the Investigations Services Division that handles the OPM FIS contract. My apologies for any confusion I may have caused!

  26. I can’t wait for a government shutdown so I can be forced to work for free.

  27. Fed,

    The contractors have been working for free for years.

  28. That’s not a very good business plan.

  29. So does anyone know if what USIS recently did with their pto/vacation policy is legal? I know that a lot of people are not happy right now with the change.

  30. My 2013 New Year’s resolution:

    Find another job!

  31. Anyone see the new ‘headers’ requirement in ROIs?

    With source too.

    Oh my.

  32. What you RF’ing to?

  33. The use of headers is going to be required for sections in the ROI.

    No more block reporting, it’s all going to be broken up, including source testimonies. Even if it’s one sentence, it will get it’s own header.

  34. ??? Headers? Like breaking up each section into different reports? Residence header, education header, etc.?

  35. Contractor,

    Yep, along with issue headers!

    Source and subject testimonies.

    Fun, fun, fun for everyone!

  36. Uhhhhhhhhh. Not to be all holier-than-thou, but I assume this is caused by terrible report writers/reviewers. No one who reads one of my ROIs would be confused as to what I was talking about as far as section/resi/educ ect….

  37. Sounds like “high-impact writing”–something DSS used successfully from the early 1990′s to 2004. The adjudicators loved it. It made our reports much easier to read. We used headings, sub-headings, captions, bullets, and lots of white space. Of course once we switched to OPM and PIPS, we had to revert to our old way of writing: wall-to-wall text.

    I liked high-impact writing, particularly when I was reviewing cases as an ASAC or SRA. After I read the entire report, I could flip back and forth from the SI write up to other parts of the report and quickly find what I was looking for.

    For more info see:
    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA286581
    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA265748

    The first report contains a good example of the same Subject Interview written in both low-impact and high-impact styles.

  38. Everyone will have the following “Header” in their reports along with the info that goes below it. This is the last topic and will always be “Intentinonally left blank.”

    USEFUL INFO COLLECTED DURING THE INTERVIEW:

  39. Our payroll contributions for PPO did go up but fortunately not as much as Blues said. This past year I was paying about $152 a paycheck for my kids and I. If I kept the PPO plan with my kids and I it would be $243 a paycheck. Me alone is $159. We transferred my kids to my wife’s medical insurance and I went with one of the HSAs they offered. They are encouraging us to use a HSA and it looks like starting in 2014 all PPO plans will be gone and we will only be able to use HSAs.
    We did have another “moral booster” last week though. On Thursday morning we got a company wide e-mail explaining the new PTO/Sick/SCA plan Investigators will have. The plan was effective immediately. Any Inv who had more than 80 hours of PTO would loose it as only 80 hours max of PTO would be carried over. The PTO hours over 80 hours would not be paid out, they would just be gone. In addition to that we now will get a set 40 hours of sick leave and a set number of hours of PTO given to us at the beginning of every fiscal year depending on our length of time with the company. Inv will loose any PTO/Sick leave that they do not use by Sept 30. We will still be paid for any SCA leave we do not use before we get our new SCA leave on the anniversary of our start date though. I was not hit by the loss of any PTO hours over 80 as I was under 80 due to having to take FMLA earlier this year. Yet I have some co-workers who lost 40, 50 even 110 hours of PTO. That did not go over to well. Fun times!

  40. Hi Investigator,

    I corrected my original post of 02 Dec 2012about the health insurance premiums on 06 Dec 2012:

    ——————————————————-
    Blue’s Clues
    06 Dec 2012 at 7:22 pm

    MY BAD!
    The USIS 2013 health insurance rates I mentioned above (Dec 2nd post) are for a different division of USIS – NOT the Investigations Services Division that handles the OPM FIS contract. My apologies for any confusion I may have caused!
    ——————————————————-

    The premiums I quoted are starting in 2013 for NSD, ***NOT*** ISD. This summer NSD went through the same changes to sick/PTO time but it was announced early and everyone was allowed to use up their time on the books by October 1st so no one would lose what they had earned. But now there’s no more rolling over hours to the new year and no more payouts (even when you leave the company).

  41. We in ISD saw that NSD had time to burn their unused PTO and that is what many are upset about. Inv did not have a chance to do so with the new PTO policy being effective immediately.

    I saw your correction Blues and I am happy ours in ISD did not go up as much as NSDs. It still went up more than most thought it should especially since the company’s cost to pay the healthcare did not rise that much from last year.

  42. There is no way that can be legal. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone wanted to pursue some legal options. 110 hours of paid leave is a nice chunk of change and probably worth looking into fighting for.

    I know there have been a lot of investigators who left the one company earlier this year for another company and have since returned to the first company but they are probably not too happy about this turn of events…

  43. Headings? Seriously?

    Hey OPM, want to make this investigation stuff easier for everybody? Get out of the stone age with this PIPS garbage and implement a better reporting/processing system.

    Go Niners.

  44. There is some serious discontent about the PTO…. Did anyone else catch that USIS has 50% of OPM’s work- that seems a bit low. How about a disclaimers heading for everything the subject could have maybe done, knew about, or is possibly considering???

  45. There was a telecom with the CEO yesterday and it was ugly. There were a lot of people from PA complaining about the PTO. I don’t blame them. I lost 110 hours myself. However the reviewers who have worked a lot of overtime and have not been allowed to take overtime are really upset. The other thing is that the CEO seemed to indicate that the financials are really bad. It will get interesting over the next several months.

  46. I meant reviewers who were not allowed to take vacation because of the workload are very upset.

  47. Clearly, my decision to leave USIS earlier this year was on the of the best I’ve ever made. We over at my company have not been given guidance on these new headings.

  48. No word on the new headings either. Maybe waiting until after the new year?

    Seems like my company (not USIS) has an abundance of work lately. Maybe taking over some of the USIS workload?

  49. This scam alert (see website below) is why I love neighborhood canvassing and leaving bogus-looking contractor business cards. And I’m not Keith, btw. This job is becoming harder and harder when contractors have to make it perfectly clear that they are in no way, shape or form from the govt or connected with the govt. Just a private citizen who is sort of, kind of, working for (“retained by”) the govt. I get calls back after the Sj told the neighbor, coworker, friend it’s okay to talk with me.

    http://mrnumber.com/1-970-234-4278

  50. Darrow, that was awesome. Too funny.

    So word on the street is USIS was cherry picking work, so they got a slap on the hand.

    High Impact writing will be all the rage come January.

    Eyewitness News, channel 7, more news at 11.

  51. Darrow, wow. Sorry, man. I stopped doing resi’s years ago. Just too much of a pain.

    How can any of the companies make money on a SPIN? The cases are only worth $227(?) dollars but they sometimes pay me more than that to complete them? And why is a SPIN less money than an MBI? So confusing.

  52. To piggy back in Darrow’s post we were recently told we had to send our OS creds back and we would be getting basic USIS creds to use for OS work. These new creds don’t say which agency we are affiliated with just that we are retained by the government. From what I understand we can’t tell sources which agency we are with either. Fun times

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