A Pentagon agency regularly grants security clearances to employees of defense contractors who have long histories of financial problems, drug use, alcoholism, sexual misconduct or criminal activity, USA Today reported.
Citing its survey of more than 1,500 cases, the paper said in today's editions that applicants have been given sensitive clearances despite repeatedly lying about past misconduct to Defense Department investigators.
In other instances, contractor employees involved in significant criminal frauds were granted clearances, as were applicants who had violated state and federal laws by not filing income tax returns for several years, the report said.
In one instance, an employee mishandled classified material during a five-year period but didn't lose his top-secret access, the paper found.
The clearances were approved by the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals, a little-known agency that decides whether to grant or deny clearances to employees of defense contractors.
The cases cited involved rulings by administrative judges in cases where applicants seek to overturn preliminary decisions denying them access to classified information.