Is the Government Taking Feds’ Tax Debt Seriously Enough?

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., urged the intelligence chief to send a stronger message. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., urged the intelligence chief to send a stronger message. Flickr user senatormccaskill

At least one senator wants the national intelligence chief to send a stronger message that failure by federal employees and contractors to pay back taxes is a threat to national security.

In an Aug. 26 letter to National Intelligence Director James Clapper, Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester highlighted a July Government Accountability Office report  showing that 83,000 Defense Department employees and contractors cumulatively owed more than $730 million in taxes. 

“This unacceptable situation raises national security concerns and sends the message to taxpayers that some folks don’t have to play by the rules, but can still be trusted with access to our nation’s most sensitive information,” Tester told Clapper.  “Given the scope of this problem and the amount of debt involved, I urge you to address this matter comprehensively and promptly.”

Sudden heavy debt and personal bankruptcy by security clearance holders are considered possible signs of vulnerability to bribery or workplace misconduct as the government moves toward more continuous evaluation of employees with access to classified information.

Tester, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee that oversees the federal workforce, said he wants Clapper and the Office of Personnel Management to more thoroughly investigate applicants’ financial backgrounds during the background check process. He asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence how the government plans to recoup the $730 million in unpaid taxes and take action to restrict the access of employees or contractors with unpaid taxes.

Tester, author of a new law giving OPM more flexibility to use its revolving fund for background checks, is also pushing one of several bills to further reform the security clearance process. His Security Clearance Accountability and Reform (SCARE) Act cleared the Homeland Security panel in May. It would punish federal employees and contractors found to have compromised the integrity of a background investigation, and update government policy determining which positions require a security clearance.

(Image via Flickr user senatormccaskill)

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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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