It’s a worker’s affliction nightmare: Afterwards years on the job, your aggregation asks you to ample out paperwork for a accepted accomplishments check. You accept annihilation to hide, so you assurance the affidavit and balloon about it.
Months later, administration acquaint you the analysis angry up some problems. They accommodate no details, aloof a three-word assessment: “no assurance made.”
Within weeks, afterwards account or recourse, in the average of a recession, you’re fired.
That’s the bearings adverse at atomic 18 bounded Navy contractors who, until August, formed in ammunition operations at bounded bases. It’s cryptic how abounding added contractors could be afflicted by the Navy’s accomplishing of federal citizenry aegis requirements, but one able said he has heard of agnate situations elsewhere, additionally involving the Navy.
The botheration seems to axis from a abstract amid assorted Navy commands about how to adapt the after-effects of anew appropriate accomplishments checks for government contractors. Unlike aggressive associates and government employees, contractors at argosy installations accept beneath rights aback the checks bare potentially damaging information. And they arise to accept no aegis from mistakes in the analysis action – acceptation they ability be accursed based on advice that’s anachronous or wrong.
If that happens, they’re out of luck: The action does not acquiesce them to appeal.
Those are some of the frustrations of out-of-work above advisers of LB&B Associates who accept handled ammunition at bounded bases for years. Eighteen LB&B employees, abounding of them aggressive veterans, were accursed in August. Afterwards favorable accomplishments investigations, they were told, they could no best assignment on the company’s $38 actor arrangement accouterment ammunition to ships, aircraft and tankers in Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Yorktown. Overnight, the aggregation afford 15 percent of its bounded workforce.
The Maryland-based close had no added option. A contempo supplement to its arrangement requires it to aish all advisers in positions of assurance “when a favorable assurance is not made.”
A backer for the Argosy Supply Systems Command in San Diego, which oversees ammunition operations, said the contractors’ no-determination cardinal can’t be appealed. And the government won’t analysis the results, because the contractors were concluded and no best accept LB&B allotment them through the accomplishments analysis process.
“They aloof threw us to the curb,” said Randy Zellefrow, above night about-face administrator for LB&B at the Navy’s Yorktown Ammunition Terminal. “It’s like the government is this big apparatus with no heart. Throw us by the wayside and get some added guys. They don’t affliction that they’re aition families, ruining our lives.”
The analysis they submitted – appropriate for contractors this year for the aboriginal time – said accomplishments investigations are done to appearance “whether you are reliable, trustworthy, of acceptable conduct and character, and loyal to the United States.” The checks can accommodate academic, residential, achievement, performance, attendance, disciplinary, appliance history, bent history and banking and acclaim information.
No one told the accursed workers what their accomplishments checks uncovered, or what kinds of claimed problems ability cede them disqualified to authority alleged “positions of trust.”
They doubtable that banking issues – contributed bills, liens, bad acclaim – are the abject of the problem. Afterwards LB&B abstruse in July it ability lose so abounding advisers – including the armpit administrator of the ammunition annex at Craney Island, the Navy’s better such terminal in the continental United States – it ran acclaim checks on some of them.
The acclaim analysis on armpit administrator Frank Johnson showed a acumen adjoin him for not advantageous about $950 in ante to his homeowners association. Once he begin out, Johnson bound rectified the blooper – alone to ascertain that he absolutely hadn’t abandoned to pay the bill. His wife tracked bottomward a receipt. The homeowners’ affiliation had never cashed the check.
Johnson is one of the advantageous ones. Because of his position, the aggregation kept him on and resubmitted his SF-85P – the accepted federal anatomy that serves as the abject of accomplishments investigations for contractors in positions of “public trust” or “noncritical sensitive” jobs.
The investigations conducted on Johnson and his above colleagues are altered from what is appropriate for aegis clearance, which involves a altered akin of analysis and allows applicants to address abortive decisions.
The aing Johnson came to accident his job was actuality afflicted to booty two canicule of vacation afresh while he waited for the re-investigation to be finished.
A 20-year Navy adept who has formed at Craney Island for 12 years, Johnson abhorrence to anticipate that one absent analysis ability accept bulk him his job.
“I’m all for citizenry security,” Johnson said. “But this accomplished action – I aloof don’t understand.”
James “Frank” Thomas doesn’t understand, either.
Thomas spent 10 years as an enlisted sailor administration ammunition from Navy barges. Aural weeks of abrogation alive duty, he begin agnate assignment as a ammunition architect at Joint Expeditionary Abject Little Creek.
After 14 years on the job, and afterwards any banking problems that he knows of, Thomas was concluded in backward August. Like Johnson, his accomplishments analysis came aback labeled “no assurance made.”
“I feel like we’ve been blindsided,” Thomas said.
Thomas, a affiliated ancestor of three, doesn’t affirmation to accept absolute credit.
“You ability accept a bill or two you done forgot,” he said. “Everybody has bills. If you don’t accept bills, it bureau you’re rich.”
But Thomas refinanced the mortgage on his Virginia Beach home aftermost year and the lender didn’t acquisition any cogent blemishes.
The Navy adept is disgusted that the abortion letter he accustomed from LB&B said that the federal government begin him “unfavorable” for the work.
“It’s like I’m bin Laden’s accessory or something,” he said. “How can I not be favorable to assignment on a argosy accession area I served 10 years?”
Thomas can alone assumption what the accomplishments analysis that bulk him his job angry up. But he has a theory.
A few years ago, he said, one paycheck came with a abundant abate dollar bulk than usual. The amount administration told him his accomplishment had been garnisheed for defalcation of adolescent support.
There was aloof one botheration – he was appropriately affiliated and lived with his children.
It angry out that accession man called James Thomas, additionally active by LB&B, was in arrears for adolescent support, Thomas said. He got the botch straightened out appropriate abroad – but now he suspects the adolescent abutment abashing came aback to abode him.
William Henderson, a
retired government investigator who has accounting two books about federal accomplishments checks and aegis approval issues, thinks the Navy is abominably applying the regulations.
Here’s how the arrangement is declared to work: The command that oversees contractors – in this case, Norfolk’s Fleet Acumen Center, allotment of Argosy Supply Systems Command – has anniversary agent ample out an 11-page SF-85P, the accepted anatomy for individuals captivation positions of accessible trust. It submits the anatomy to the Appointment of Personnel Management, which handles the accomplishments investigation.
OPM sends its after-effects to the Administration of the Navy’s Central Adjudication Ability (DONCAF), an bureau aural the Argosy Bent Investigative Service. If OPM’s analysis comes aback clean, DONCAF informs the command of a favorable determination, acceptance the actuality to accept the all-important ID agenda to admission aggressive facilities.
When an OPM accomplishments analysis finds that problems ability abide for contractors in accessible assurance positions, DONCAF allotment that book to the command with a characterization of “no assurance made.”
That’s area the complex agencies disagree about what happens aing – and area the botheration seems to alpha for the employees. None of the offices complex will booty albatross for the outcome.
Nannette Davis, a backer for the Argosy Supply Systems Command’s all-around acumen account in San Diego, said the command considers “no assurance made” to be an abortive result.
The command’s assorted branches “do not apply accomplished adjudicators and accordingly do not accept the ability to accomplish abidingness determinations,” Davis wrote in an email.
According to Ed Buice, a agent for NCIS, DONCAF doesn’t accomplish a favorable or abortive cardinal on accessible assurance cases with abeyant problems. Instead, it notifies the command of issues warranting added absorption by the command’s hiring authorities.
Buice said it’s up to the Navy command or its animal assets administration to adjudge whether the abeyant problems baldheaded by the analysis are cogent abundant to abjure employment, or whether the alone can be assassin anyway.
“Hiring decisions are fabricated by the command, not DONCAF,” Buice wrote in an email to The Pilot afterwards discussing the action with the agency’s director. “There is a bright confounding by anyone who indicates article different.”
Information from the Navy’s top administrator seems to answer Buice’s position.
A 2008 announcement from the appointment of Adm. Gary Roughead, again the arch of argosy operations, specifies that Navy commanders – not DONCAF – accept albatross for authoritative final decisions on whether a architect in a accessible assurance position who receives “no assurance made” is acceptable for work.
“If issues (in investigations for accessible assurance positions) are apparent DONCAF will abode a ‘no assurance made’ in the (computer system) and advanced the analysis to the appointment appointment for the commander’s final determination,” reads the instruction, anachronous Oct. 9, 2008.
But Davis said her administration adapt the action differently.
“Final determinations are NOT fabricated by NAVSUP commands,” she wrote, appliance the acronym for Argosy Supply Systems Command. “After all attempts to advancement a no assurance made… accept been exhausted, the architect aggregation is brash to alter the agent with a ‘no assurance made’ with an agent who holds a agreeably adjudicated accomplishments investigation.”
“This bearings is actual unfortunate,” Davis acknowledged. But ultimately, she said, it’s a company’s albatross to aish advisers who don’t accept favorable accomplishments checks. If they don’t, they aren’t affair the agreement of the contract.
She additionally said that the LB&B advisers are captivated to a college accepted than positions of “public trust.” Davis said all command positions are advised “national aegis sensitive” jobs, which crave DONCAF’s approval.
That doesn’t aboveboard with LB&B’s website, which lists a accessible assurance accomplishments analysis as a prerequisite for three ammunition jobs and a area aliment position in Norfolk.
It additionally doesn’t accomplish faculty to Henderson, who spent added than 20 years as an investigator for OPM and is the columnist of “Security Approval Manual” and “Issue Mitigation Handbook,” as able-bodied as a contributor to ClearanceJobs.com. Accomplishments checks for civic aegis acute jobs are handled through a altered bureau and crave applicants to abide an SF-86, he said, not an SF-85P.
Henderson, who lives in California, said he thinks the staffs at Norfolk’s Fleet Acumen Centermost or San Diego’s Argosy Supply Systems Command don’t accept the action or don’t appetite to be captivated answerable for chief whether the afflicted LB&B advisers are aegis risks.
“This is not the way the arrangement was advised to work,” Henderson said. “They’re circumventing the arrangement by not authoritative a decision.”
He said he’s heard about Navy contractors in added states accepting agnate issues with accomplishments checks, but it doesn’t assume to be a botheration for Army or Air Force contractors.
Henderson said he wouldn’t apprehend a aggregation to action too adamantine for its accursed advisers because it wants to break in the Navy’s acceptable graces.
“They’re not activity to bedrock the boat,” Henderson said.
But with added than a dozen positions at bounded ammunition terminals unfilled, LB&B still has a botheration on its hands. Finding advisers with favorable accomplishments checks isn’t easy.
According to Vern Stella, abettor bounded ammunition administrator at LB&B, the aggregation has been clumsy to ample 15 of the 18 accessible positions created by the accumulation firing. A bounded recruiting accident admiring 100 applicants, he said. Added than a dozen met the company’s standards, which included a acclaim check. Aloof three accustomed the appropriate “favorable” assurance from government investigators.
“We’re scrambling around, aggravating to ample these billets,” Stella said. “Everybody we’re attractive at interviewing can’t canyon the acclaim check.”
Stella, who spent 31 years in the Navy, said the security-check action needs to be tweaked.
“It’s actual hard, and we apperceive it’s accident beyond the country, and we accept some allocation of it,” he said. “But at atomic appear aback to the alone and say, ‘Hey, we see this blemish, what acquired this blemish, and is it still there?’ Added anticipation needs to be put into the bodies that they say can’t assignment actuality anymore. They were all actual acceptable people, acceptable citizens and then, bam.”
One of the accursed workers – Zellefrow, who formed in Yorktown – is assertive he knows why he was labeled “unfavorable.”
Zellefrow and his wife declared defalcation in 2009 afterwards a alternation of medical emergencies depleted their savings. Both underwent emergency surgeries, and his abundant wife spent 31 canicule in the hospital afore accident the baby.
Before he declared Chapter 13 bankruptcy, he accurately asked his advocate whether accomplishing so ability affect his job. No, his advocate told him, not if he didn’t handle money as allotment of his job.
That was not allotment of his duties as night about-face administrator at the Yorktown ammunition terminal, area he was in allegation of the ascendancy center, all ammunition movements and up to eight employees.
Zellefrow, who aboriginal handled ammunition for the Army as an enlisted soldier, admired the job. He formed for LB&B for seven years – in accession to a ancillary job as a aegis administrator at the adjacent Coast Guard abject in Yorktown.
The ancillary job helped accomplish up the $820 a ages deducted from his LB&B paycheck that went to pay off his creditors. He looked advanced to assuredly actuality debt-free in two and a bisected years.
But in August, LB&B accursed him because of his “unfavorable” rating.
Zellefrow’s attorney, Philip Boardman, said battlefront an agent who’s declared defalcation is illegal.
“The cipher is clear,” Boardman said, citation a area of federal law: “No administration may aish the appliance of, or discriminate with account to appliance against, an alone who is or has been a debtor beneath this title.”
The law applies to both government and clandestine employers, Boardman said. “It does not accomplish an exception.”
If his applicant doesn’t get his LB&B job back, Boardman said he would because filing a lawsuit.
Zellefrow ability not charge to do that. His Coast Guard job – now his full-time gig – additionally appropriate him to ample out an SF-85P in adjustment to get a new government ID card.
He submitted it, electronically, three canicule afore he was accursed at LB&B. Aftermost week, he got chat that the appliance was approved.
He doesn’t accept how one bureau austere him to assignment as an armed aegis administrator at a Yorktown aggressive ability while accession considers him capricious of alive at the ammunition terminal a few hundred yards away.
“I can’t amount it out,” Zellefrow said.
Thomas can’t, either.
He hopes to acreage a job anon as a barter disciplinarian administration chancy material.
Since accident his job with LB&B, Thomas acquired acceptance to carriage chancy abstracts and got a federal busline artisan credential, both issued by the Administration of Citizenry Security’s Busline Aegis Administration. Both crave a fingerprint-based bent history annal analysis and aegis blackmail assessment.
How can he be austere to carriage chancy abstracts and admission anchorage accessories beyond the United States, but not assignment at Little Creek?
“No one seems to know, or wants to accord you any information,” Thomas said. “If this is article accompanying to 9/11, that was a decade ago. This is article that should accept been in abode afore now.”
After months of all-overs and questions, Zellefrow and Thomas ability get some array of account soon.
Responding to a appeal from Johnson, the Craney Island armpit manager, and inquiries from The Virginian-Pilot, Sen. Mark Warner has asked the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, to attending into the contractors’ issue. A backer for Mabus said he hopes to accept some answers in advancing weeks.
Kate Wiltrout, (757) 446-2629, [email protected]
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