Millions in Tax Debt Won’t Stop You from Qualifying for a Pentagon Security Clearance

Defense Department file photo

Some 83,000 Defense Department employees and contractors remain eligible for security clearances despite owing an aggregate of $730 million in unpaid taxes, the Government Accountability Office reported.

The employees -- who either retain or are deemed qualified for secret, top secret or interim security clearances -- owe anywhere from $100 to millions of dollars per taxpayer, with a median of $2,700 in debt, auditors said in a report released Monday.

Some 5.1 million federal employees or contractors have security clearances;  GAO surveyed 3.2 million who received them from 2006 through 2011.

About half of the 83,000 delinquents are federal employees, the report found, which accounts for $363 million, or about half of the outstanding tax debt. About 40 percent of the total individuals have entered a repayment plan with the Internal Revenue Service, which, upon completion, would bring a cumulative $262 million to the Treasury.

About 25 percent of the individuals with tax debt were eligible for a top-secret clearance. GAO was not able to determine how many security clearances had been denied because of tax delinquency.

Last month, a working group with officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Office of Personnel Management and the IRS told GAO it had studied the prospects for having agencies pursuing background checks on employees routinely gain access to information on federal tax debts. But IRS said such access would violate the privacy protections in Section 6103 of the tax code.

The Monday report was seized upon by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “It is vital that the administration and Congress work diligently to eliminate potential threats that compromise the integrity of the federal workforce and the privileged information they safeguard,” Coburn said in a statement. “Giving security clearances to individuals who fail to follow the law is unwise and risky. Federal tax cheats with security clearances jeopardize both our national and economic security, and could unnecessarily put our nation’s classified information at risk.”

Coburn added that federal employees should “pay their share of taxes and live by the same rules that so many hard working Americans do.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.