DFAS feds remain suspended without pay

Thursday - 7/29/2010, 2:58pm EDT

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Federal News Radio has been telling you about employees at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service being fired after security reviews.

One of the reasons given for the firings was poor credit reports of employees. The Defense Department has said that wasn't the only reason for the firings.

Cleveland.com reports "Pentagon officials said all of the cases have been reviewed and careful attention was paid to ensuring that the people fired or suspended met some of the 13 guidelines for not being able to hold sensitive positions."

AFGE 6th District National Vice President Arnold Scott, representing Locals in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, tells AFGE's Jason Fornicola on Inside Government that DFAS and DoD told him the same thing at a recent meeting. They said "they use 13 criterias. They haven't told us what the criterias are yet to determine whether they release these employees or not. But they say 'we look at the whole person.'"

However, Scott said when he looks at the employees' personnel packages, all he sees is the Equifax credit score.

Well, what's going on right now, Jason, is DFAS Finance and Accounting is terminating employees based upon their credit score. They go up online and pull down the Equifax report and they look at the report and then they come back and tell these employees based upon their report that somehow they are not trustworthy anymore because, just like most people in this economy, they're having a hard time. Government workers are just like everybody else. They're having a hard time too.

According to Scott, the credit score remains an issue even when it contains possible errors. "In some instances, they're disputing whether they owe this debt and the government takes the position 'we don't want to hear whether you're disputing it. We want you to pay the debt and then you dispute it later.'"

Scott said for the 12 people now on "indefinite suspension," that becomes a particular challenge because they're on leave without pay. Scott pointed out an employee who isn't being paid probably can't pay off the debt, whether it's disputed or not.

In the end, said Scott, "we'd like to see a process where these employees have a fair appeal process." He said the ideal situation would be "where an administrative law judge... can sit down and hear these cases, make a ruling" and DoD has to abide by the decision.

Scott has been meeting with members of Congress about the issue.

To hear the complete interview, listen to AFGE's Inside Government, Friday morning at 10 am, or online anytime.

For more on this topic, see Bad credit reports don't imperil your federal job and DFAS employees fired after security review.

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