Security Clearance Process

A Decades-Long History of Lies: A Case Study for Clearance and Public Trust Applicants

I ran across this Office of Inspector General case regarding a Department of Interior employee who was able to lie and cajole his way into getting appointed to multiple positions with the DoD and other Federal agencies over the course of 21 years. His positions included stints with: U.S. Army; U.S. Army Reserve; U.S. Navy; U.S. Geological Survey; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental  Enforcement. The various positions to which he was appointed were designated as either national security or public trust positions.

His falsifications and misrepresentations included:

  • falsification of military service record (claimed earning a “Purple Heart”) and wearing unauthorized awards in an official photo
  • failed to disclose circumstances of leaving military (resignation in lieu of involuntary termination with other than honorable discharge)
  • claimed 10 point veteran’s preference on job applications
  • did not disclose leaving employment with the Navy because they had intended to deny him eligibility for a security clearance
  • lied to an OPM investigator during his interview

When you read the details of the OIG investigation you are sure to ask yourself “How the heck did he get away with this for so long?”  The answer is simple: there were numerous gaps in information and communication between the various agencies and offices involved in the hiring and background investigation process. Throw in a supervisor who doesn’t heed the advice of security professionals and you end up with this mess!

I have personally run to ground types of issues similar to this case and have seen first-hand the reluctance of supervisors and HR office personnel to do the right thing. Excuses ranged from: they like the employee and don’t think it was a “big deal” to “he is one of our best employees”. What they fail to understand is that falsification and lack of candor are at the heart of being appointed to a position that requires trustworthiness and honesty.  The moral of this story is that lies and deceit will eventually catch up with you over the years and multiple investigations, so be honest from the start.

Discussion

  1. Thanks for sharing @marko.hakamaa! Wow, there's the white lie to not hurt anybody feelings ("do you like this shirt?") and then there's the egregious lies like this. Like you, I'm surprised that he pulled this for so long. His DD-214 should have cleared up some of his claims, or at the minimum, caused HR/security to raise questions about such discrepancies. We have a very long thread here on the length of time for investigations --- you would think that the investigation process, albeit slower than we would generally like, would be thorough enough to dot the "i's" and cross the "t's" to have caught this guy very early on.

  2. The guy should have gone into politics.