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Warner to Trump: Don’t penalize security clearance applicants due to government shutdown

mark warnerU.S. Sen. Mark Warner has written to two top Trump Administration officials to urge them to ensure that federal employees do not have their security clearances jeopardized due to the ongoing government shutdown.

In a letter to the heads of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Sen. Warner noted, “A key element of the background investigation that supports a security clearance or a determination of trustworthiness relates to financial considerations… Today, federal employees at agencies that lack an appropriation have missed  their first paycheck due to the government shutdown, and may be unable to make payments on rent, mortgage, credit cards, or other debts. This could impact their credit scores and thus jeopardize their ability to secure or maintain a clearance or hold a position of trust. Due to absolutely no fault of their own, the jobs of dedicated government personnel whom we entrust with the nation’s secrets could be at stake. The problem is particularly acute for younger workers who lack a long credit history.”

Warner asked the Administration to issue guidelines ensuring that agencies do not penalize employees if their finances are negatively impacted by the loss of a paycheck during this unnecessary and destructive government shutdown.

“While I understand that departments and agencies have discretion to consider broader factors that may affect credit (like a government shutdown), I ask you to issue clear and public guidance that departments and agencies may in no way penalize employees’ clearances or determinations of trustworthiness if their credit is effected by the shutdown.  This guidance should apply to any information used in an initial clearance, a periodic reinvestigation, or a continuous evaluation program,” Sen. Warner wrote.

In an open letter yesterday, the FBI Agents Association – the public representative for the nearly 13,000 active FBI Special Agents – raised similar concerns that the shutdown’s financial impacts could lead to delays renewing or securing security clearances, or even in agents losing their positions.

The full text of the letter is available here.

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