Security at the Department of Defense is Weaker than You Would Think
Security clearance is given to thousands of people who owe the IRS money.
- By Matt Holden
- Jul 31, 2014
A GAO report released on Monday showed that the Department of Defense (DOD) has granted security clearances to over 80,000 employees who collectively owed the IRS over $730 million in back taxes.
In a vacuum this seems bad enough, but when coupled with previous security mishaps at a high level, a disturbing trend starts to appear. It started last June with the scandal involving Edward Snowden, who showed just how capable one employee with access was at revealing a system people think should be most secure of all.
Security clearance became a story once again in September, after Aaron Alexis shot and killed twelve people at the Washington Navy Yard. Alexis was a Navy contractor who had been granted a security clearance even though investigators knew that he falsely reported that he had no prior firearms offenses when he enlisted.
Disclosure of sensitive information has the potential to put national security at risk, which is why government agencies should be taking all possible steps to ensure that security clearances are given only to individuals who pose minimal risk for unauthorized disclosures. The GAO points out in its report that tax debt poses “a potential vulnerability.”
20 percent of employees that were given clearance with tax debt had accrued the debt before they were given access, showing that the DOD does consider this a problem or a potential one. The DOD has simply said that they take someone’s financial status into account with the rest of the specific profile, evaluating based on the whole-person concept.
Matt Holden is an Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media, Inc. He received his MFA and BA in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He currently writes and edits for Occupational Health & Safety magazine, and Security Today.