Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio. (MICHAEL SCHWARTZ / GANNETT NEWS SERVICE)
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service yesterday halted the terminations of as many as 20 employees nationwide who were going to lose their jobs because of debt-related problems.
Spokesman Tom LaRock said that DFAS will review the positions of employees facing termination because they lost their security clearances. DFAS will determine if the employees actually need to be classified as sensitive.
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. The background checks include reviews of employees' finances 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.
Employees who had already been terminated will not be rehired, LaRock said.
Troy Marshall, president of the local union representing DFAS employees in Cleveland, said he is pleased by the agency's decision. But he said far more employees are affected than DFAS has acknowledged, and said his local knows of at least 67 employees in Cleveland alone who are losing their jobs.
"If they want to dispute our list, we can send it to them," Marshall said. "We can go name by name."
Four Ohio lawmakers, including Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, sent DFAS a letter asking the agency to halt suspensions and terminations and review its policies. LaRock said DFAS' decision was partly motivated by that letter.
DFAS is not halting suspensions of the 20 employees during the review, however, meaning they have to go on unpaid leave after they use their paid leave.
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