If you are entrusted with safeguarding classified material, you are expected to report potentially significant, factual information that comes to your attention and that raises potential security concerns about a co-worker. You are also strongly encouraged to help co-workers who are having personal problems that may become a security issue if the problems are not addressed.
Presidential Executive Order 12968 on "Access to Classified Information" states: "Employees are encouraged and expected to report any information that raises doubts as to whether another employee's continued eligibility for access to classified information is clearly consistent with the national security." It states further that the head of each agency that grants access to classified information shall establish a program to educate employees with access to classified information about their individual responsibilities under this order.1 This security guide meets that requirement.
The information presented under Counterintelligence Indicators, Security and Suitability Issues, Preventing Violence, and Suicide Crisis Intervention is background information to help you judge whether a co-workers behavior raises concerns that merit reporting to an appropriate authority.
What and when to report is a question of ethics and good judgment in determining what is in the best interests of your country, your organization, and your colleagues. The rules on this are very general, as there can never be enough rules to cover all the potential situations you might encounter.
In considering your responsibility to report potentially significant, factual information about co-workers, think carefully about the following:
Your vigilance is the best single defense in protecting information, operations, facilities, and people. Apathy, disbelief, or fear of what might happen if we become involved sometimes cause us to look away rather than confront troublesome behavior. But looking the other way from counterintelligence or security issues can pose a risk to a colleagues well-being as well as to your organization and the national security. No Good Excuses discusses rationalizations people use for failing to fulfill their reporting responsibility.
You are not expected to be an armchair security officer or psychologist, nor should you conduct your own investigation to verify or validate information. Your role is to be aware of potential issues and to exercise good judgment in determining what and when to report. The key is to intervene, when appropriate, in the interest of national security and your organization, and to protect a colleague from his or her own potentially self-destructive behavior.
Information should be reported to a person in your chain of command, to your security office or to a counterintelligence office. Report it to the person or office in which you have the most confidence that they will take appropriate action and protect your identity as the source of the information. You may also report it anonymously by calling one of the hotlines that many organizations have set up for this purpose.
People Who Made a Difference describes actual cases when an employees decision to report or not report helped a colleague, caught a spy, or allowed a spy to continue unchecked.
Understanding your professional obligations will help you overcome the natural and understandable hesitation to report potentially adverse information about a co-worker who may also be a friend. All reports will be checked out with the utmost confidentiality and discretion. If you so desire, you need not be identified as the source of the information. Security personnel have extensive experience in handling such reports in a professional manner that protects your interests.
Link back to the Western Region Security Office home page.