Financial hardships affect security clearance

Financial hardships can affect the status of a military member or Department of Defense civilian employee’s security clearance.

Therefore, both should be aware of how the Office of Personnel Management and the Army’s Central Adjudication Facility evaluate debt in their investigation and adjudication processes.

In an e-mail titled ‘Difficult Financial Times and Its Potential Impact on Security Clearances,’ dated Feb. 13, 2009, the U.S. Army G-2 addresses Adjudicative Guidelines concerning finances.

The e-mail states: “We have heard concerns from the field regarding individuals that are experiencing economic hardships (loss of job by spouse, filing for bankruptcy, foreclosure of home, inability to pay debts, etc.) and the perceived impact this situation may have on the retention of their security clearance. While we are concerned as well with regard to these tough economic times, it is important to emphasize that the Adjudicative Guidelines, specifically Guideline F: Financial Considerations; provide mitigating conditions that apply to the current economic situation. 

“One example would be when the conditions that resulted in the financial problem were largely beyond the person’s control (such as loss of employment, a business downturn, unexpected medical emergency, or a death, divorce or separation), and the individual acted responsibly under the circumstances. Mitigation can also occur when the individual has initiated a good-faith effort to repay overdue creditors or otherwise resolve debts.”

The financial situation of service members and DoD civilians is of interest to investigators and adjudicators because an individual who is financially overextended is at risk of having to engage in illegal acts to generate funds.

According to OPM Federal Investigative Notice 10-07,  dated Aug. 29, 2006,  “If the subject’s credit report reflects current delinquencies (120 days or more) on combined delinquent debt totaling $3,500 or greater, OPM will obtain specific releases as necessary and obtain pertinent information from individual creditors. Bankruptcy records will be reviewed if the bankruptcy occurred within the past 2 years. And, when the bankruptcy occurred in [the next] 3-5 years, it will be reviewed if current credit issues are admitted or developed.”

If military members or DoD civilians in U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart are having financial difficulty, they should take action to mitigate the situation.

Some circumstances are beyond a person’s control, such as loss of employment. However, while they seek another job, persons affected by situations such as this should communicate with their creditors. Full disclosure with creditors and developing a payment plan with them is considered a good-faith effort or, in other words, a mitigating factor.

For questions concerning security clearance and an individual financial situation, call the USAG Stuttgart Security Office at 431-2008/2013/2014/civ. 07031-15-2008/2013/2014.