JPL Workers Sue Over HSPD-12 Checks
By Allan Holmes | Friday, August 31, 2007  |  01:43 PM

Scientists and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are suing NASA and the California Institute of Technology, which manages JPL, over what they say are unwarranted and overly personal background checks under the governmentwide access cards required under Homeland Security Presidential Directive - 12, according to an article by the Associated Press.

The lawsuit was filed by 28 plaintiffs, many of whom “have worked on such projects as the Mars rovers, the Galileo probe to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn, but none are involved in classified work, according to the suit,” according to the article. “It seeks class-action status to represent similar JPL employees.”

The Department of Commerce also has been named I the suit because the department promulgates federal identification standards. To obtain an identification card, which will give employees access to federal buildings and computers, employees must fill out a form asking them about employment history, past residences and any illegal drug use.

More form the article:

The suit claims the directive was concerned "exclusively with the establishment of a common identification standard" and "contemplates no additional background investigation or suitability determination beyond that already required by law."

But according to the lawsuit, the Commerce Department and NASA instituted requirements that employees and contractors permit sweeping background checks to qualify for credentials and refusal would mean the loss of their jobs.

NASA calls on employees to permit investigators to delve into medical, financial and past employment records, and to question friends and acquaintances about everything from their finances to sex lives, according to the suit. The requirements apply to everyone from janitors to visiting professors.

The suit is structured so that it can become a class action suit. Could this just be the tip of the iceberg?

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Allan Holmes, Bob Brewin and Daniel Pulliam on what's happening and what's being discussed in the world of federal information technology.