@StateDept Updates 12 FAM 233.4 Suspension of Security Clearance #NoTDYs

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

🆕 12 FAM 233.4  Suspension of Security Clearance
(CT:DS-359;   04-27-2021)
a. When derogatory information is received regarding an employee with access to classified information, the director of the Diplomatic Security Service (DS/DSS), based on a recommendation from the senior coordinator for Security Infrastructure (DS/SI), will determine whether, considering all facts available upon receipt of the initial information, it is in the interests of the national security to suspend the employee’s access to classified information on an interim basis.  A suspension is an independent administrative procedure that does not represent a final determination and does not trigger the procedures outlined in 12 FAM 234.
b. Suspension of a security clearance may be appropriate in, but may not be limited to, the following situations:
(1)  Additional time is needed to resolve adverse information that may require additional investigation or for the individual to complete certain requirements to maintain his or her clearance;
(2)  Preparations are being made to revoke an individual’s existing access to classified information and access is suspended while the review of the determination to revoke takes place;
(3)  The individual is pending removal or separation from employment under 5 U.S.C. 7532; or
(4)  The individual has failed to submit required security forms or releases in a timely manner.
c.  In all cases where access is suspended, the individual must be notified, in writing, that his/her security clearance has been suspended.  Upon notification, the individual must turn in his or her Department-issued credentials that provide logical or physical access to classified systems or designated classified spaces/facilities and any and all Special Issuance Agency-issued passport(s) to the Office of Personnel Security and Suitability (DS/SI/PSS).  DS must in turn notify the appropriate human resource personnel or the Industrial Security Division (DS/IS/IND), Defensive Equipment and Armored Vehicle Division (DS/PSP/DEAV), and regional security officer/post security officer, as appropriate, of the suspension.  The executive office within the individual’s employing bureau is responsible for collecting any and all classified devices issued to the employee.
d. Personnel whose security clearances have been suspended may not be placed on temporary duty (TDY) statusExceptions to this policy may be considered on a case-by-case basis by DS/DSS, but are unlikely to be granted, barring exceptional circumstances.  An exception request must be submitted in writing from the individual’s bureau executive director to DS/DSS via DS/SI/PSS.
e. Suspension of a security clearance is an interim measure, and is not a substitute for the revocation procedures described in 12 FAM 234.
f.  The length of the suspension process can vary according to the nature and complexity of the case.  If, for example the suspension of a clearance is based on preliminary facts from a DS criminal investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) counterintelligence or other law enforcement investigation, or an Inspector General investigation, in many cases, those matters must be resolved and prosecutorial decisions rendered before the Department can use the information for administrative action.  Often, relevant evidence and witnesses are located abroad, which can also add time to the investigative process.  Recognizing these constraints, DS will work to resolve suspension cases as quickly as possible.
g. Where deemed appropriate, the director (DS/DSS) may reinstate a suspended clearance subject to conditions, which may include limitations of TDY or regular assignment, or with a warning that future incidents of a similar character may result in revocation of a security clearance.

 

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State/OIG Finds @StateDept Revoked Security Clearance in Retaliation For Whistleblowing

 

Via State/OIG

OIG did not substantiate any allegations of whistleblower retaliation related to Department contractors or grantees. However, OIG did substantiate an allegation of a security clearance revocation in retaliation for whistleblowing activity under PPD-19. As required by the Foreign Affairs Manual, OIG reported its findings to the Under Secretary for Management. The report recommended that the whistleblower’s security clearance be reinstated.

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Presidential Policy Directive-19 (PPD-19) PDF

The brief note from State/OIG’s semi-annual report includes little details about a security clearance revocation, not suspension. According to 12 FAM 233.4, suspension is an independent administrative procedure that does not represent a final determination and does not trigger the procedures outlined in 12 FAM 234, which includes revocation.  With revocation, the Department may determine that immediate suspension without pay from employment under 5 U.S.C. 7532 is deemed advisable.

After State/OIG’s referral to “M”, the Under Secretary for Management will reportedly transmit the IG materials to the Security Appeals Panel, “if one is convened in the matter, and to other Department officials as appropriate” according to the Foreign Affairs Manual.

Note that the State Department does not have a Senate-confirmed “M” as of this writing. We want to know if the security clearance is not reinstated per OIG recommendation.

State/OIG’s semi-annual report also does not include information on consequences for the individual/individuals who perpetrated the revocation of this whistleblower’s security clearance in retaliation for whistleblowing activity.

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