Senate members grilled OPM Director Beth Colbert this week about concerns regarding the transition of background investigation responsibilities from OPM’s Federal Investigative Services (FIS) to the new National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB). Among the concerns outlined in the letter of inquiry to OPM was the fear that the NBIB is simply a coat of paint designed to cover up the cracks left by the FIS and that no real reforms were in the works. Pointed out was the fact that FIS had a backlog of over 8,000 cases at the end of FY 2015, more than double from the previous fiscal year. Also disconcerting was the number of security clearance reinvestigations that were overdue.
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):