New Concerns About Government Security Background Checks

Thu, July 18th, 2013 - 1:18 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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There are something like three million Americans with high level security clearance.   That’s a lot of people who are privy to sensitive information.   Small wonder there are leaks and the more egregious breaches as evidenced by Edward Snowden.   Such leaks are embarrassing, and they are very costly both in security and financially.

Any person applying for security clearance is supposed to undergo a background check.  Fair enough.  But now the question is how thorough are these background checks?  With the government overwhelmed, security agencies are assigning background checks to the private sector.  Are they really doing their job or are they giving it short thrift?   Some investigators, it has been alleged, were making up the answers to the questions as they went along, rather than undergo the more tedious legwork.   Not good.

This Washington Post Article, NSA Leaks Raise Concerns About Reliability of  Government Sensitive Background System, is well worth the read.    On one level the article examines the flaws in the system and the possible vagaries found in the background checks.  The article questions the effectiveness of these background reports and the means by which they are being conducted.

On a larger scale one has to wonder how can any national manage over three million people with high level security clearances?  And then the issue of privatization of our national security–what are the pitfalls long and short term?


Stretching the Truth on Employment History

Tue, July 16th, 2013 - 10:38 am - By Gordon Basichis

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Not long ago, I was asked by some literary friends what kind  of work is non-fiction but where the author uses lyrical embellishments to stretch the truth?   I responded–an autobiography.   People in their autobiographies tend to stretch out their adventures and derring do.  Sometimes they do more than embellish, but create their pasts form fresh fictional clay.   The more mundane elements of the past are suddenly elevated and minor encounters become lurid romance or notable achievements in the battlefields of life.

It’s not always a bad thing. In fact, certain embellishments and the more creative additions to one’s past history makes for far more interesting reading.  Or to take a quote from John Ford’s wonderful Western classic, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance…” No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

But then when one stretches the truth on his work history it may be another matter.  The tale spinner is no longer spinning his yarns for entertainment value, but using them to get a leg up on his competition, all after the same job.  In the eyes of his peers, the fictional recounting of his work may make your employee or candidate look more important.   But then, when it is discovered that appearances are not quite what the seem and that his work history is questionable, the employer can suffer embarrassment and even liability issues.

Clients may start to wonder if that person can even perform.  Of, what I hear often, if he lies about this kind of thing, what else does he lie about?

Questions have been raised about a number of high profile people, lately.  They have claimed everything from advanced degrees to romantic and comprehensive work histories.   Often the claims go unverified, or those trying to verify these claims find that the entities where the employee was supposedly engaged denies he even worked there.

Which is why is pays to verify all employment up front.  Never get so swept up in either the media posturing or the adulation that you allow certain mythical elements about someone’s job history be taken at face value.

It can cost you.


A Look Back on What to Do When Your Candidate Tells Tales on His Resume

Fri, July 12th, 2013 - 10:09 am - By Gordon Basichis

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Many employers and Human Resources Managers have discovered that employment candidates are not always as truthful as they should be on their resumes.  Some embellish, stress the importance of their jobs, and then some make claims that are more false than true.

I wrote about this in an article…”What to Do When Their Are Discrepancies on Your Candidate’s Resume.

For those staffing people who haven’t read it.  It may be well worth a look.

Falsified and Modified Background Checks for Government Workers

Mon, July 8th, 2013 - 1:00 pm - By Gordon Basichis

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Apparently, for some it is not enough to fail to conduct background checks, or when they are completed and return, allow them to fall through the cracks.  Some will falsify background checks, which I suppose is a means of socially engineering the employment screening concept.

Bloomberg reports that investigators charged with conducting background checks on security workers have falsified reports. Eighteen such souls, including contractors and government workers, have been convicted of falsifying background reports since 2006.  There are some 36 such cases waiting in the wings, but the Inspector General lacks the resources to clear them at the moment.

According to the article…”Two Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittees plan to hold a hearing addressing the government’s security-clearance process.

Two Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittees plan to hold a hearing addressing the government’s security-clearance process.

The Office of Personnel Management is responsible for some 90 percent of the background investigations of U.S. government employees and contractors. The Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security are the biggest users of the program.

The personnel office conducts more than 2 million investigations a year, according to its website. It vets applicants for federal agency jobs and applicants for security clearances.

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