By John V. Berry, Esq., www.berrylegal.com
As the sequestration process in the federal government continues, it is important to note the potential effect of pending furloughs on a federal employee's security clearance. On first glance, one would think that the sequestration and potential furloughs would not significantly impact eligibility for a security clearance. However, there has been a fair amount of debate on the issue.
As many federal agencies began the furlough process, many federal employees holding security clearances may wind up in an unpaid leave status for a number of days over the next few months. Many federal employees are facing unpaid furloughs, over the next 5 months, which could amount to as much as a 20 percent pay cut. The effect of such a significant loss in pay, for some federal employees, could result in negative financial issues affecting Adjudicative Guideline F, Financial Considerations (the provision of the security clearance guidelines which discuss security concerns based on indebtedness and financial ability).
The sequester could thereby affect federal employees that cannot afford the 20 percent cut and as a result are unable to pay their bills, meet their obligations or their credit is otherwise negatively impacted. If such a situation occurs, a federal employee should consult with an attorney familiar with security clearance matters regarding the steps that should be taken to protect an individual’s security clearance. Generally, it is important to work, in advance, with one’s creditors to attempt to resolve any financial issues, ahead of time, that may result due to the pending unpaid furloughs.
The Department of the Navy has provided some basic guidance in this area. Navy Guidance This guidance is helpful, but before any of the steps in this memorandum are taken it is advisable to first speak with counsel because individual circumstances require individual legal advice. Our law firm represents federal employees and government contractors in security clearance matters and can be contacted at www.berrylegal.com or by telephone at (703) 668-0070.