Note: This is not a JPL site. For official JPL HSPD12 information, please see http://hspd12.jpl.nasa.gov (JPL access only)
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Frequently Asked Questions
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T-shirts

  1. I saw some people wearing T-shirts about this. Can I get one?
  2. Can I really wear this on lab?

The Pending Legal Case

  1. Can new plaintiffs join the suit?
  2. Since I'm not a plaintiff, will the suit have any effect on me?
  3. What else can I do to help the lawsuit?

Actions You Can Take

  1. I see people distributing fliers about this outside lab. How can I help?
  2. How late can I wait to submit the SF85 or SF85 forms and my fingerprints, with no risk of having to go on leave without pay or being terminated?
  3. When is the deadline for me to respond to the email invitation?
  4. What are my possible courses of action when I receive my email invitation to fill out SF85?"
  5. What should I do if I'm being pressured into submitting it earlier than October 22?
  6. I haven't decided whether to fill out the SF85 yet. Does it hurt to login to e-QIP?
  7. Can I prevent JPL from opening an account for me with OPM?

Differences between JPL and other Federal Agencies

  1. Are all federal agencies requiring their contractors to comply with HSPD-12?
  2. Why are NASA contractors being held to a different employment standard than other federal employees that are not being required to comply with HSPD-12?
  3. Will background investigations be required for non-sensitive positions such as cleaning staff, landscapers, and construction workers?

Release Forms

  1. Is there any limitation to the scope of the background investigations?
  2. Is there any limitation on who can collect the information?
  3. Does anyone claim that the investigation is limited in its scope?
  4. Can the release form be modified to limit the investigation to verification of information provided on the SF85?
  5. Will the release form authorize the release of financial and medical information?
  6. If I'm asked to sign an additional release for detailed financial records or medical records, do I have to comply?

Cost

  1. How much will JPL's compliance HSPD-12 cost JPL?
  2. Since HSPD-12 is a mandate from NASA, will NASA be providing the $6 million in funding to JPL?
  3. By how much has JPL reduced its funding for the FY08 R&TD program this year?
  4. How much will HSPD-12 cost NASA overall?

Voluntary and Optional

  1. Is the JPL rebadging process voluntary?
  2. Has anyone claimed the rebadging process is voluntary?
  3. Does JPL have any "mandatory" processes?
  4. Will foreign nationals be able to continue working at JPL as before, with no new badge, while U.S. citizens are terminated?
  5. What is Optional Form 306?
  6. Is Optional Form 306 optional?

Legal Aspects

  1. Does this site have any legal advice?
  2. Does HSPD-12 violate the U.S. Constitution?
  3. Does HSPD-12 violate federal law?
  4. Does HSPD-12 violate the California Constitution
  5. Does HSPD-12 violate State Law?

About this site

  1. Is this an official NASA or JPL site?
  2. Who provides content and maintains this site?
  3. I saw an error on this site. Will you fix it?
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T-shirts

  1. I saw some people wearing T-shirts about this. Can I get one?

    This is what the shirts look like:

    Anti-HSPD12 shirt
    Please contact the webmaster with the size T-shirt you would like. The shirts are free. You may donate to the cause if you like.
  2. Can I really wear this on lab?

    Yes. This has been cleared by the ethics office. If you do accept a shirt, please wear it! In fact, please wear it on the last 9/80 working day each week: Friday on normal weeks, and Thursday on RDO weeks.

The Pending Legal Case

  1. Can new plaintiffs join the suit?

    At this point in the legal action, it is difficult and not immediately helpful to add any plaintiffs to the case. On the other hand, anyone who wants to submit a declaration describing his/her own experience with the process and explaining how he/she would be harmed if the background checks go forward is welcome to do so. Contact Bob Nelson for details.

    Later on, when the question of certifying the lawsuit as a class action is considered, it might be helpful to add plaintiffs from nontechnical employment categories. If you are interested in participating as a potential plaintiff from a non-science or engineering category, please contact Bob Nelson for details.

  2. Since I'm not a plaintiff, will the suit have any effect on me?

    The suit applies essentially to everyone at JPL who has been asked to sign form SF85, which includes most of the people who work at JPL. If the injunction is granted at the October 1 hearing, we expect it immediately to halt the background investigations for the time being, not only for the named plaintiffs but for everyone similarly situated. However, we can only speculate as to what will happen on October 1; the judge has many options, including a more narrow injunction or rescheduling the decision to another date.

  3. What else can I do to help the lawsuit?

    • "Friend of the Court" briefs: Amicus curiae ("friend of the court") briefs supporting our position from influential persons and organizations (such as scientific and professional organizations) would be helpful. If you are a JPL employee and a member of an organization that might be willing to support our motion for injunctive relief, contact the executive officers of the organization requesting that they contact Bob Nelson Bob Nelson to discuss their participation. Similarly, contact political leaders (including local and state office holders and members of congress) requesting that they file briefs on our behalf.
    • "Letters to the Editor": We encourage letters to the editors of newspapers, professional journals, etc. Keep your letters brief, respectful, and civil; clearly state your concerns without disparaging anyone involved in the implementation or the case.
    • "Leafletting Events": If you would like to participate in distributing flyers and similar events, contact the webmaster.
    • "Donations": Donations to the legal fund are very much appreciated. Visit the donations page.
    • "Petition": If you are a JPL employee but not a plaintiff, you may like to sign a petition protesting the current rebadging process.
    • "Other Ideas": See our other ideas on how to get involved.
    • "Your Ideas": If you have ideas about how to help that aren’t listed here, contact Bob Nelson, Dennis Byrnes, or Susan Foster Bob Nelson, Dennis Byrnes, or Susan Foster.

Actions You Can Take

  1. I see people distributing fliers about this outside lab. How can I help?

    We'd love to have you help distribute fliers! We have distribution drives one morning each week (Friday on normal weeks, and Thursday on RDO weeks). Please contact the webmaster if you'd like to join us.

  2. How late can I wait to submit the SF85 or SF85 forms and my fingerprints, with no risk of having to go on leave without pay or being terminated?

    October 5. Anyone who completes their form and fingerprints by October 5 will be safe, according to information finally provided on August 13, 2007. The federal court hearing our case will decide whether to issue a prelinary injunction prior to this date, so you can wait for the court decision before completing your SF85 without risk to your job.

  3. What are some of the other deadlines that have been stated?

    JPL management has provided multiple contradictory answers to the question of deadlines, ranging from "within 10 days of receiving the email invitation" to "October 27". Despite repeated questioning, until August 13, 2007, JPL management provided no clear answer on how soon one must respond in order to avoid "voluntarily resigning" or being put on leave without pay. Here are the deadlines provided to employees at various times:

    • October 27. This is the only verifiably hard deadline. The Government requires that all paperwork be in place and basic criminal check completed by this date.
    • October 22. According to the official JPL HSPD-12 web site: "Q: What is the last day I can sign the authorization form and avoid being denied access to the lab? A: October 22, 2007." The paperwork must be done early because OPM requires 5 days to do the basic criminal check.
    • October 5. See above.
    • October 1. On July 18-19, 2007, some employees were informed by their supervisors, citing decisions at an 7/17/07 EC meeting, that "On October 1st: those who have been notified via Email and requested to fill out their badge forms and failed to do so are assumed to have resigned."
    • Within 90 days. According to information provided by other agencies utilizing the e-QIP system (e.g., the DoD), e-QIP accounts are valid for 90 days after they are first logged into. This is unconfirmed, and JPL has been informing employees that the window is only 30 days, as described below.
    • Within 30 days. Each acount opened with OPM is valid for 30-days. If the SF85 or SF85P, fingerprints, and signed release forms are not received within 30 days, the account is closed, and JPL must "reinitialize" the employee with a new OPM account. Amanda Hezel has stated in information briefings that if employees complete the paperwork in time to meet the 30 day window, they will avoid LWOP/resigning. If the 30 day window is missed, there is also no penalty, except that the risk of not completing the process by the October 27 deadline is increased.
    • Within 15 days. On July 31, it was revealed for the first time that some employees who were initialized in April 2007 would be receiving notices that if they did not re-open their account within 15 days, a resignation would be processed, effective October 28. Similar emails will be sent to employees originally initialized in May, June, and July. Under this new rule, even reopening the account immediately would not a guarantee LWOP would be averted, because those employees would be placed at the end of the queue.
    • Within 10 days. Email invitations state "[I]t is important your form be completed within ten business days from today." At information briefings in May, June, and July, Amanda Hezel has stated that this is a "goal" but not a deadline. Under the ever-changing rules, it is not clear whether this deadline is or is not the only deadline by which employees may guarantee averting LWOP.
  4. What are my possible courses of action when I receive my email invitation to fill out SF85?"

    The options are:

    • Do not respond. In this case, no background investigation of you will take place, although OPM will still have an account of you with your name, SSN, and date and place of birth. If you are thinking of taking this course of action, you are encouraged to join the Yahoo mailing list (see instructions below) to discuss your legal situation.
    • Respond before October 5. If you have concerns about HSPD-12, it is recommended that you wait until October 5 to comply. This carries no risk for you-- you will not be terminated, and you will not need to go on leave without pay. If many people do this, a couple of positive things are possible: (1) A successful legal result can be achieved prior to October, saving all those people from the intrusive background investigations, and (2) Many people will need to be processed in October, forcing JPL and NASA to delay the process.
    • Experience a glitch preventing you from completing SF85 before October 5. This is not something you can choose, but it is happening to a number of people. In this case, JPL will allow you to access JPL facilities with your old badge after October 27, 2007. The details have not been worked out.
    • Respond after October 5, but before October 22. As long as you notify JPL, by Oct. 5, of your intent to complete the forms and fingerprints by Oct. 22, your job will be safe. You may, however, have to endure some leave without pay if JPL does not process your completed materials by October 27.
  5. What should I do if I'm being pressured into submitting it earlier than October 5?

    You should inform the person pressuring you that the deadline is October 5, and consider reporting the pressure to higher management at JPL. The deadline is October 5, and no one should need to submit their material earlier.

  6. I haven't decided whether to fill out the SF85 yet. Does it hurt to login to e-QIP?

    It doesn't hurt much to try. You will have to supply your SSN and answer date/place of birth questions, to see if they match the information used to initialize your OPM account. If a mistake was made in initializing your account, the login may fail, which is JPL's fault. JPL management has indicated that if you try to participate and a glitch is encountered, the October 28, 2007 deadline will be waived for you.

  7. Can I prevent JPL from opening an account for me with OPM?

    Yes, if you contact the HSPD-12 office at JPL and tell them not to open the account. It is not enough to tell your line management that you will not fill out SF85. The HSPD-12 office assumes everyone will participate, unless told otherwise.

Necessity of HSPD-12

  1. Are all federal agencies requiring their contractors to comply with HSPD-12?

    No. Other heads of federal agencies (e.g., DoE, NSF) have determined that they do no not need to require contractors working on non-sensitive work to comply with HSPD-12.

  2. Why are NASA contractors being held to a different employment standard than other federal employees that are not being required to comply with HSPD-12?

    NASA has not issued any official statements about this point.

  3. Will background investigations be required for non-sensitive positions such as cleaning staff, landscapers, and construction workers?

    Yes, HSPD-12 compliance is required for all employes and contractors at JPL.

Voluntary and Optional

  1. Is the JPL rebadging process voluntary?

    No. Those who don't participate will have their employment terminated.

  2. Has anyone claimed the rebadging process is voluntary?

    Yes. The process is described as voluntary on the SF85 and SF85P forms, and by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and JPL Director Charles Elachi. Doug Sanders of the JPL Ethics office states that it is voluntary because the definition of "voluntary" involves a choice, and here there is a choice between terminating employment and complying with HSPD-12. By this reasoning, handing over your wallet to a mugger also would be voluntary when he offers the choice of "your money or your life."

  3. Does JPL have any "mandatory" processes?

    Yes. One example of a mandatory JPL process is the Mandatory Annual Vehicle Ridership Survey. This survey of vehicle ridership is described as "mandatory" by JPL management. There has been no penalty for failing to comply with this process. Another example is the mandatory training requirement of 40 hours per year for most employees. The penalty for failing to meet this requirement is that it may be noted on the employee's ECAP evaluation. Neither of these mandatory processes has penalties as severe as termination of employment.

  4. Will foreign nationals be able to continue working at JPL as before, with no new badge, while U.S. citizens are terminated?

    Yes. U.S. citizens that do not go through the HSPD-12 process will be terminated. Foreign nationals that do not go through this process will continue working as before because a new process has not yet been defined for them.

  5. What is Optional Form 306?

    It is a declaration for people applying for federal employment. JPL employees are not federal employees, they are Caltech employees working under a contract Caltech has negotiated with NASA.

  6. Is Optional Form 306 optional?

    No, it is required. The JPL case workers will not accept your package for submision to OPM until you have supplied it.

Release Forms

  1. Is there any limitation to the scope of the background investigations?

    No. The SF85 release form explicitly states that "any information" may be obtained from a long list of sources, as well as "other sources."

  2. Is there any limitation on who can collect the information?

    Yes. "Any investigator" from "any federal agency" may collect information.

  3. Does anyone claim that the investigation is limited in its scope?

    Yes. At HSPD-12 information briefings to JPL employees, staffers have stated that the investigation will not go beyond verifying information an employee provides on the SF85.

  4. Can the release form be modified to limit the investigation to verification of information provided on the SF85?

    No. JPL employees have been informed that this will not be allowed.

  5. Will the release form authorize the release of financial and medical information?

    Yes, with some limitations. A credit report from the three bureaus may be obtained. The address references, supervisor references, and personal references will be asked for information about the employee's financial integrity and mental stability. Detailed financial information beyond a credit report and detailed medical records may require a separate release form.

  6. If I'm asked to sign an additional release for detailed financial records or medical records, do I have to comply?

    No, but this could adversely affect the assessment of your suitability for employment.

Cost

  1. How much will JPL's compliance HSPD-12 cost JPL?

    JPL has budgeted $6 million for its initial compliance. FIPS 201-1 requires the badging process to be repeated every five years, so there will be ongoing costs to JPL as well.

  2. Since HSPD-12 is a mandate from NASA, will NASA be providing the $6 million in funding to JPL?

    No. This will be paid out of JPL's burden budget.

  3. By how much has JPL reduced its funding for the FY08 R&TD program this year?

    $6 million, from $44 million to $38 million. The $6 million R&TD drop is not related to the $6 million badging cost, according to Charles Elachi, because badging is funded out of an operations pot while R&TD is funded out of the investment pot. In particular, the percentage of funding for investments (including R&TD) has been held constant. Nevertheless, if JPL did not have $6 million cost for badging, that would be $6 million it could spend on other things, including increasing the funding for the investment pot, to reverse the drop in the R&TD budget. That funding could have paid for another 24 R&TD tasks in FY08 at $250K each.

  4. How much will HSPD-12 cost NASA overall?

    NASA expects the cost for initial compliance to be $112 - 160 million, with additional ongoing costs.

Legal Aspects

  1. Does this site have any legal advice?

    No. Nothing in this site should be construed as providing legal advice. You should consult your lawyer for that. Any action you may or may not take is your responsibility.

  2. Are there any other HSPD-12 cases involving NASA employees?

    We are not aware of other cases.

  3. Does HSPD-12 violate the U.S. Constitution?

  4. Does HSPD-12 violate federal law?

  5. Does HSPD-12 violate the California Constitution

  6. Does HSPD-12 violate State Law?

These are all good questions that a lawyer may be able to help you answer.

About this site

  1. Is this an official NASA or JPL site?

    No. The official JPL HSPD-12 site is http://hspd12.jpl.nasa.gov. The official site has been cleared for external release to the public, and it was available to the public until mid-July 2007. NASA has now directed JPL to make it available only internally at JPL. There is also a NASA-wide HSPD-12 web site at http://hspd12.nasa.gov.

  2. Who provides content and maintains this site?

    Concerned employees and contractors of JPL.

  3. I saw an error on this site. Will you fix it?

    Yes! Send email to webmaster@hspd12jpl.org.

Last updated: December 2, 2007
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Send questions, comments, and corrections to webmaster@hspd12jpl.org