The man who blew the lid off of security clearance fraud committed by former OPM Contractor USIS finally got compensated for his perseverance and courage to speak up and do the right thing. An article in the Washington Post detailed how Blake Percival, a former USIS Director of Fieldwork Services, went from an extravagant office in western Pennsylvania making $110,000 a year, to getting fired and his family having to live at his parents’ house in Alabama with barely enough money to feed his family. Percival filed a civil lawsuit against USIS and after 4 and-a-half years of dealing with the justice system, Percival was awarded a little bit over six million dollars–of which he will get 3.3 million after paying off all of his legal fees.
In another case involving a former contractor background investigator for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Department of Justice announced that former KeyPoint Government Solutions investigator Jason Razo pled guilty in the U.S. District Court in D.C. to making a false statement. This is the latest in a string of convictions involving 21 other background investigators who also falsified Reports of Investigations by ghost-reporting interviews that never occurred. Razzo, in a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, agreed to pay the federal government restitution in the amount of $85,779. Sentencing in this case has yet to occur, but if it follows precedent on previous convictions for the same offense, there is a 50-50 chance Razzo will get some jail time. OPM’s Office of the Inspector General investigators and U.S. District Court prosecutors have sought stiff sentencing from the judges in these cases to send a message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.
In 2015 the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) Board held 996 hearings for appeals on adverse security clearance determinations or eligibility for placement into public trust positions. As was the case in the previous year, analysis of the types of issues involved showed that cases with financial and personal conduct issues made up the overwhelming majority. The next two highest categories were drug involvement and foreign influence. Below is a breakdown by adjudicative category of the types of issues presented (Note- some cases had multiple issues):
Last week the Office of Personnel Management made a decision to shut down the e-QIP application used to process 90% of Federal government background investigations for 4-6 weeks. At the same time, due to the data breach which allowed hackers access to OPM investigative records through a laptop that was only user ID/password protected, the Office of Management and Budget has now pushed for all Federal agencies to comply with an HSPD-12 requirement first rolled out in 2005 that mandated agencies upgrade their IT infrastructures to meet Federal Identity Credentialing and Access Management (FICAM) standards. The result of these two events is “the perfect storm” in which compliance with investigative requirements for issuance of a smart identification card and the inability to submit background investigations has left agencies in quite a predicament.