Department of the Army--Availability of Funds for Security Clearance Expenses
B-307316: Sep 7, 2006
- Full Report:
An Army captain's costs of renouncing his Turkish citizenship in order to obtain a security clearance necessary for his assignment to the United States Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine can be considered an official, not a personal, expense since they are incurred incident to the Army requirement that he obtain a security clearance for his new assignment.
Because the costs were incurred primarily for the benefit of the government, GAO has no objection to reimbursing the captain for such expenses.
B-307316, Department of the Army--Availability of Funds for Security Clearance Expenses, September 7, 2006
An Army captain's costs of renouncing his Turkish citizenship in order to obtain a security clearance necessary for his assignment to the
The United States Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (USACHPPM or Center) has requested a decision under 31 U.S.C. sect. 3529 on whether its appropriated funds are available to reimburse an Army captain costs he incurred in renouncing his Turkish citizenship. The captain held dual citizenship with the
By orders dated
As chief, Captain Gul's duties consist of ensuring the health and safety of all personnel working with chemical warfare nerve agents at stockpile and chemical demilitarization sites, chemical schools, and research sites. He is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the laboratory's medical surveillance program and for conducting tests for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. He also serves as a subject matter expert for the detection of nerve agent exposure. A secret security clearance is a requirement for holding the Laboratory Chief position. USACHPPM Military Personnel Office Table of Distribution and Allowances; Bender Memorandum, para. 5. Accordingly, while Captain Gul was still working at the Research Institute, the Army conducted its investigation to determine if he qualified for a security clearance. Bender Memorandum, para. 2.
The federal personnel security program under which military personnel are considered for security clearances is governed by Executive Order No. 12968, Access to Classified Information, 60 Fed. Reg. 40,245 (
Captain Gul held dual citizenship with the
Consistent with our regular practice in developing a case, we asked the Center to provide us a copy of the Army policy that would require Captain Gul to renounce his Turkish citizenship. Letter from Thomas H. Armstrong, Assistant General Counsel, GAO, to Thomas R. Bender, Deputy Chief of Staff, USACHPPM, Feb. 23, 2006. The Center referred us to Army Regulation 380-67. Memorandum from Thomas R. Bender, Deputy Chief of Staff for Resource Management, to Thomas H. Armstrong, Assistant General Counsel for Appropriations Law, Mar. 10, 2006.
Under Army Regulation 380-67, ch. 2 (Sept. 9, 1988), the section entitled Standards for Access to Classified Information or Assignment to Sensitive Duties provides that Only U.S. citizens shall be granted a personnel security clearance . . . .
acceptance and active maintenance of dual citizenship, or other acts conducted in a manner which serves or which could be expected to serve the interests of another government in preference to the interests of the
The Turkish renunciation process has fees and costs associated with it. The Center states that [a]pparently
Appropriations are available only for the objects for which they were made except as otherwise provided by law. 31 U.S.C. sect. 1301(a); see also B-304228,
Thus, we have held that personal qualification expenses are not to be payable from appropriations.  See B-248955,
However, we have not objected to the use of appropriated funds for expenditures otherwise considered to be personal in nature when the expenditures primarily benefit the government. See 68 Comp. Gen. 502, 505 (1989). For example, in B-256092,
Similarly, in 73 Comp. Gen. 171 (1994), the issue was whether the Air Force could use its operation and maintenance appropriation to pay the cost of obtaining licenses or certificates needed by its members to perform state regulated activities, such as asbestos removal, in cases where federal law required Air Force members to comply with state and local regulations. We determined that the Air Force members' state licensing and certificate fees in question were reimbursable from Air Force appropriations funds because the government was the primary beneficiary of the expenditure.
We stated our rationale for our conclusion as follows:
While the license or permit is often obtained in the name of the member, the primary interest in obtaining the license lies with the Air Force, which designated the task as a new assignment of the member, not with the member. Any personal benefit that Air Force members receive from the acquisition of the licenses is nominal and incidental to the performance of their official duties.
Here, expenses incurred for renunciation of Turkish citizenship in order to obtain security clearance are, in these circumstances, primarily for the benefit of the government. In its request the Center states that CPT Gul is being required by USAHPPM-HQ and the Army to go through this procedure in order to fully take on his responsibilities here and for the greater good of the Army. Bender Memorandum at para. 5. The captain cannot assume his full responsibilities at the Center without a security clearance. A security clearance provides assurance to the government that sensitive information will be safe. The renunciation facilitates the granting of the clearance, which is necessary for the work of the Center. Any personal benefit the captain would receive from this renunciation is incidental to the performance of his duties.
Captain Gul's costs of renouncing his Turkish citizenship in order to obtain a security clearance can be considered an official, not a personal, expense since they were incurred primarily to benefit the government. Accordingly, GAO has no objection to reimbursing the captain for such expenses.
Gary L. Kepplinger
 The source of the description in this paragraph of the Laboratory Chief's duties and responsibilities is Captain Gul's Officer Evaluation Report Support Form.
 The Comptroller of the Treasury stated the rationale underlying this rule as follows:
[A]n employee of the Government has upon his own shoulders the duty of presenting himself as competent in every way for the duties of his employment . . . he should fit himself for the discharge of those duties at his own expense.
23 Comp. Dec. 386 (1917) quoting from 66 MS. Comp. Dec. 247,
 Congress has since passed legislation to permit agencies to pay employees' expenses of obtaining professional credentials, should the agencies choose to do so. Pub. L. No. 107-107, sect. 1112(a), 115 Stat. 1012, 1238–39 (