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62 DFAS employees lose jobs because of debts

Mar. 25, 2010 - 05:43PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Four Ohio lawmakers, including Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, today sent DFAS a letter asking officials to halt employees' suspensions and terminations and review its policies. (MICHAEL SCHWARTZ / GANNETT NEWS SERVICE)

The local union that represents Defense Finance and Accounting Service employees in Cleveland says at least 62 employees including the local's president are losing their jobs because of bad credit and unpaid debts.

Four Ohio lawmakers, including Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, today sent the agency a letter asking officials to halt employees' suspensions and terminations and review its policies.

But a spokesman for DFAS, Tom LaRock, said the agency is following broader Defense Department guidelines governing security clearance requirements. And he said employees who are losing their security clearances, and consequently their jobs, probably had more problems than a few old debts.

"There's a whole bunch of things they look at, some financial, some not financial," LaRock said. "We don't have the authorization to waive any of it."

A 2005 Pentagon regulation tightening security clearance policies meant DFAS employees who deal with personal data such as Social Security numbers and bank account information were reclassified as holding sensitive positions and required background checks.

Troy Marshall, a DFAS employee and president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3283, said he was first told in 2007 that he would lose his clearance because of his debts. Marshall said he owed about $18,000 on a car, medical treatment and other bills at the time, but said he has since repaid about two-thirds of that debt.

"That wasn't enough for them," he said.

Other DFAS employees were accused of failing to tell investigators about their debts, Marshall said. He said Defense has focused too much on people's financial situations and did not look at their entire work histories.

Marshall wants DFAS to reclassify its employees as nonsensitive and allow them to keep their jobs.

LaRock said that investigators at Defense's Washington Headquarters Services review employees' financial background to see if they have histories of not paying taxes, patterns of shirking debts, or serious money troubles linked to other problems such as drugs, alcohol or gambling. But he said they do not consider employees' credit scores.

LaRock also said WHS and not DFAS made the decision to revoke those employees' clearances.

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