Personal Finances and Security Clearances – (Part 2 of 3)

April 4, 2008

MITIGATING DELINQUENT DEBT

The following conditions generally mitigate the delinquent debt concerns listed under Guideline F of the Adjudicative Guidelines For Determining Eligibility For Access To Classified Information.

Not Likely to Recur: The likelihood of a financial problem recurring is greatly reduced if the problem occurred long ago, occurred under unusual circumstance, or was an isolated incident.  Examples of these types of situations include, writing one or two clusters of unintentional insufficient fund checks, loosing track of a couple of bills as a result of relocating, or having “paid collection” accounts from a few years ago.  Favorable changes in financial habits and lifestyle over a period of time can mitigate more recent financial irresponsibility.  Formerly delinquent debts (delinquent debts that were eventually fully satisfied) are given more or less weight depending on the applicant’s more recent credit dealings.  The existence of current debt problems increases the significance of past debt problems.

Beyond Applicant’s Control: Financial problems often arise due to situations beyond a person’s control, such as medical debts, divorce, loss of income, victim of crime, bad investments, business downturn, and natural disasters.  In such situations if a person acts reasonably and responsibly (including bankruptcy, when necessary) to resolve their debts, the financial issue can be mitigated.  The debts do not have to be fully resolved at the time of adjudication, but there should be verifiable uninterrupted efforts toward this goal.  Being a victim of predatory lending practices, particularly involving subprime mortgages, appears to somewhat fall into the category of situations beyond an applicant’s control.  Much will depend on individual circumstances.  Applicants who are lawyers, accounts, and people with experience in the financial services industry will have difficulty convincing anyone that they were victims.

Counseling/Good Faith Effort to Repay: Conscientious participation in credit counseling or a debt consolidation program can significantly mitigate financial concerns.  Consistent, systematic, good faith efforts to repay or otherwise resolve debts without formal counseling will have the same effect.  If it is obvious that an applicant is only taking such action because they know that it is required to obtain a security clearance, it will not convince an adjudicator that the problem is unlikely to recur after the clearance is granted.  Therefore, efforts to resolve financial problems should begin as soon as possible.  Obviously the earlier corrective action is taken, the more likely the problem can be fully mitigated.  In some instances actions, such as credit counseling, initiated only a few months prior to applying for a clearance can substantially mitigate security concerns.

Disputed Debts: When business records, including credit reports, indicate that an applicant owes money, the burden of proof shifts to the applicant to disprove the claim.  If an applicant has several sizeable credit accounts listed as “paid as agreed” and only one delinquent account, adjudicators are much more inclined to accept even minimal evidence from the applicant that the delinquent account information is erroneous.  Conversely, if an applicant disputes half of the accounts listed on their credit report, adjudicator will want to see convincing evidence to support the applicant’s claim.  Efforts to dispute erroneous credit report entries immediately after learning of them will also help to substantiate the applicant’s position.

Article Credit: William Henderson

William H. Henderson is a retire security investigator, author of Security Clearance Manual: How To Reduce The Time It Take To Get Your Government Clearance, and regular contributor to ClearanceJobsBlog.com.


Personal Finances and Security Clearances (Part I)

April 4, 2008

This is the first of a three-part article on the impact of delinquent debt on security clearances.  Part 2 will cover Mitigating Delinquent Debt.  Part 3 will cover Delinquent Debt & Interim Clearances and What To Do If You Have Delinquent.

FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS—DELINQUENT DEBT

A sampling of Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) security clearance hearings from 2007 showed that about 50 percent of clearance denials involved “Financial Considerations.”  This was two times greater than the next most frequently listed issue for clearance denial.*

Guideline F: Financial Considerations is one of 13 criteria listed in the Adjudicative Guidelines For Determining Eligibility For Access To Classified Information.  Excessive indebtedness increases the temptation to commit unethical or illegal acts in order to obtain funds to pay off the debts.  Most Americans who betrayed their country did it for financial gain—about half were motivated by a real or perceived urgent need for money and about half by personal greed.

Aside from compulsive/addictive behavior, deceptive/illegal financial practices, and unexplained affluence, the remaining potentially disqualifying conditions detailed in Guideline F can be boiled down to one security concern—delinquent debt.  High debt to income ratio and excessive indebtedness are listed as a potentially disqualifying condition, but this rarely comes into play absent any past or present delinquent debt or obvious signs of unexplained income.  Low credit scores are not listed as a potential disqualifying condition, because factors unrelated to debt affect credit scores.

DELINQUENT DEBT

Delinquent debt is by far the most common financial concern.  In adjudicating these cases the following factors are taken into consideration:

• Cause of debt
• Response to debt
• Amount of debt

Cause of debt is generally more important than the amount of debt, because it reveals more about a person’s reliability, trustworthiness, and judgment.  Of people who seek credit counseling, roughly 50 percent are due to irresponsibility.  If the debt was caused by irresponsibility (including reckless behavior) that is likely to continue, the problem is magnified.  If the debt occurred due to situations beyond the applicant’s control and the applicant is handling the debt in a reasonable manner (including bankruptcy or debt consolidation), the significance of the problem is substantially reduced. 

Response to debt is evaluated by the things people do (or don’t do) about delinquent debt. How people deal with debt is often a decisive consideration. Those who ignore their financial responsibilities may also ignore their responsibility to safeguard classified information.  Classic indicators of irresponsibility and unethical behavior are:

• Changing addresses without notifying creditors
• Failure to take reasonable measures to pay or reduce debts
• Knowingly issuing bad checks
• Increased credit card use immediately before filing for bankruptcy

The words, “bankruptcy” and “credit counseling” do not appear anywhere in the Adjudicative Guidelines.  This is because both bankruptcy and credit counseling can be considered positive efforts to get one’s finances under control.  What is important is the underlying reason for the bankruptcy or credit counseling.

Amount of debt focuses primarily on the delinquent amount, but as previously mentioned total debt, if it appears excessive, may also be taken into consideration.  Significant delinquent debt is a security concern.  For total debt there is a rule of thumb used by credit counselors.  If an individual’s minimum monthly payments for consumer credit (excluding credit cards that are paid in full at the end of each billing cycle and mortgages on primary homes) totals more than 20 percent of monthly take-home pay, there is a financial problem. This does not apply to unmarried military personnel who live in barracks and eat in mess halls and others who are similarly situated.  According to Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Federal Investigative Notice No. 06-07, OPM does not automatically expand investigations for financial issues, unless:

• Credit report reflects current aggregate delinquent debt totaling $3,500 or
• Bankruptcy within the past 2 years or
• Bankruptcy within the past 3 to 5 years with evidence of current credit problems.

This does not mean that delinquent debt totaling less than $3,500 is not significant, but it does suggest that, absent any aggravating circumstances or other security issues, the government is not overly concerned about small amounts of delinquent debt.  OPM considers bankruptcy only as a trigger for further inquiry.

* Guideline E: Personal Conduct was cited in about 45 percent of the cases, but was usually a issue involving falsification directly related to other adjudicative criteria.

Article Credit: William H. Henderson

William H. Henderson is a retired security investigator, author of Security Clearance Manual: How To Reduce The Time It Take To Get Your Government Clearance, and regular contributor to ClearanceJobs.com and ClearanceJobsBlog.com


Jobs in Enterprise Content Management

April 4, 2008

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ActionCoach Presents Franchise Divas (4/8/08

April 4, 2008
 

Franchise Divas

 

On Tuesday, April 8th local women business owners will come together at the Columbia Hilton in Columbia, Maryland to support, educate and encourage other women who may be considering entrepreneurship. 

 

The evening will feature a presentation by MaryAnn Scully, Founder and President of Howard Bank. Ms. Scully was inspired to lead the capital raise for a new bank after the  multi state bank where she  formerly served in an executive management position was acquired by an out of state institution . Desirous of making an impact not just a salary, Ms. Scully used her hard-earned skills and networks to found a successful local community bank.

 

Britt Schroeter, a top consultant from FranChoice, the premier franchise consulting company matching would-be entrepreneurs with a franchise opportunity that best matches their needs, skills and interests, will give a presentation on finding the right franchise business. If you’ve ever thought about partnering with a franchise, you’ll want to listen to Ms. Schroeter discuss how to investigate and choose the business that will make the most sense for you from the over 2,000 franchise companies available today.

 

A panel discussion will follow and include:

Karen Boyd, Owner, ActionCOACH

Pat Lakata, Owner, Abrakadoodle

Chinyere Mathewson, Owner, Cartridge World

Julie Sullivan – Owner, Certa Pro

Mylene Thomas – Owner, Tropical Smoothie Café

Debbie Fratini, Owner, Fast Frame

 

The evening will begin at 6PM and Tropical Smoothie café will provide a variety of real fruit smoothies, specialty wraps and gourmet sandwiches. 
DATE:            Tuesday, April 8th
TIME:             6:00 pm – 9:30 pm

LOCATION:   Hilton Columbia
                       5485 Twin Knolls Road
                       Columbia, MD  21045

Donations benefit The House of Ruth

Seating is Limited

REGISTER TODAY BY CALLING 410-878-2199

*Beltway Bandits Alert!!! I-95/495 Closed on Friday/Sat

April 3, 2008

STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION TO TEMPORARILY CLOSE I-95/I-495 (CAPITAL BELTWAY)

AT MD 5 (BRANCH AVENUE) ON FRIDAY NIGHT, APRIL 4 AND SATURDAY MORNING, APRIL 5

 

 

MOTORISTS ENCOURAGED TO AVOID THE AREA

 

 


Cleared Job Fair (Crystal City) Tuesday 4/8/08

April 2, 2008

 

Cleared Job Fair in Crystal City, VATuesday, April 8th from 11am to 4pm  The DoubleTree Crystal City300 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA  Directions  Hotel Shuttle runs every 30 minutes from the Pentagon City Metro  or $5 Job Seeker Parking Register *Current or Active Security Clearance is required

 

 Interview with the following companies

  • L-3 Communications – GSES
  • McClendon Corporation
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Computer Sciences Corporation
  • Applied Knowledge Group
  • CACI International
  • Northrop Grumman – MS
  • ITT Space Systems
  • General Dynamics -IT
  • Everest Technology Solutions
  • BAE Systems – NSS
  • Oak Grove Technologies
  • Solers
  • CNSI, Inc.
  • Harris Corporation
  • Vangent
  • SecureInfo
  • Maden Technologies
  • Terremark Worldwide, Inc.
  • ICES 
  • Concurrent Technologies Corporation
  • AT&T Government Solutions
  • Booz Allen Hamilton

and More Coming!

 


Any Resume Presents: Understanding the SharePoint Market (Baltimore, MD)

April 1, 2008

Any Resume Consulting Lead Consultant Shadeed Eleazer will be presenting at the Baltimore SharePoint User’s Group on 4/17/08. Details are below.
The Topic of this month’s discussion is: “Understanding the SharePoint Market”

The following objectives will be discussed:

Clearly defining SharePoint roles and how misunderstanding of these roles affect staffing and on-the-job performance

Forecasting upcoming demands in skillsets for SharePoint professionals in the near and distant futures.

Discussion of the current SharePoint demand for skilled employees

Reading In-Between the lines: Extracting the facts vs. fiction in a SharePoint position

Questions you should ask before accepting your next SharePoint role

The abovementioned will be discussed and the floor will be open to share experiences and more!

The meeting is free of charge and open to all interested SharePoint professionals, power users, managers, and the merely curious about SharePoint as well.

The meeting will be catered courtesy of our food sponsor to be named shortly.

The meeting will be held at Emagination’s Baltimore office.

E.magination 1030 Hull St. Baltimore, MD 21230.
Cascade Building Suite 300

The Networking timeframe will now begin at 6:00pm to allow for attendees to arrive ontime for presentations.
Announcements and agendas start shortly after 6:30 pm.
Reserve your space today online at: http://www.baltimores…
Thanks –

Baltimore SharePoint User’s Group Staff –