, Unreliable,
& Suspicious Behavior 


Reporting Responsibilities

If you are entrusted with safeguarding classified material, you are expected to report potentially significant, factual information that comes to your attention and that raises potential security concerns about a co-worker. You are also strongly encouraged to help co-workers who are having personal problems that may become a security issue if the problems are not addressed.

Presidential Executive Order 12968 on "Access to Classified Information" states: "Employees are encouraged and expected to report any information that raises doubts as to whether another employee's continued eligibility for access to classified information is clearly consistent with the national security." It states further that the head of each agency that grants access to classified information shall establish a program to educate employees with access to classified information about their individual responsibilities under this order.1 This security guide meets that requirement.

The information presented under Counterintelligence Indicators, Terrorism Indicators, Security and Suitability Issues, Preventing Violence, and Suicide Crisis Intervention is background information to help you judge whether a co-worker’s behavior raises concerns that merit reporting to an appropriate authority.

What and when to report is a question of ethics and good judgment in determining what is in the best interests of your country, your organization, and your colleagues. The rules on this are very general, as there can never be enough rules to cover all the potential situations you might encounter.

In considering your responsibility to report potentially significant, factual information about co-workers, think carefully about the following:

bullet   As Americans, we place a high value on our privacy. When we have to make intrusions upon another person's privacy in the name of security, this must be clearly justified and implemented in a fair and consistent manner. It is important for you to report indicators of illegal, improper, unreliable, or suspicious behavior by a co-worker because:

  • The amount of damage that can be done by a single insider working for the other side has increased enormously with the growth of interconnected computer networks.
  • It is now clear that employee and supervisor decisions to report adverse information about co-workers – or decisions not to report such information – have played a significant role in our counterintelligence successes and failures. See People Who Made a Difference.
  • Our goal is to help employees with problems before they get into serious trouble.
  • If you are a contractor, compromise of the advanced technology on which your company's business is based will affect your company's bottom line. This could cause you and your co-workers to lose your job or your next raise.

Your vigilance is the best single defense in protecting information, operations, facilities, and people. Apathy, disbelief, or fear of what might happen if we become involved sometimes cause us to look away rather than confront troublesome behavior. But looking the other way from counterintelligence or security issues can pose a risk to a colleague’s well-being as well as to your organization and the national security. No Good Excuses discusses rationalizations people use for failing to fulfill their reporting responsibility.

You are not expected to be an armchair security officer or psychologist, nor should you conduct your own investigation to verify or validate information. Your role is to be aware of potential issues and to exercise good judgment in determining what and when to report. The key is to intervene, when appropriate, in the interest of national security and your organization, and to protect a colleague from his or her own potentially self-destructive behavior.

Information should be reported to a person in your chain of command, to your security office or to a counterintelligence office. Report it to the person or office in which you have the most confidence that they will take appropriate action and protect your identity as the source of the information. You may also report it anonymously by calling one of the hotlines that many organizations have set up for this purpose.

People Who Made a Difference describes actual cases when an employee’s decision to report or not report helped a colleague, caught a spy, or allowed a spy to continue unchecked.

Understanding your professional obligations will help you overcome the natural and understandable hesitation to report potentially adverse information about a co-worker who may also be a friend. All reports will be checked out with the utmost confidentiality and discretion. If you so desire, you need not be identified as the source of the information. Security personnel have extensive experience in handling such reports in a professional manner that protects your interests.

Related Topics: Exploring the Mind of the Spy, Treason 101, Spy Stories

1. Director of Central Intelligence Directive 6/4 also imposes an "obligation to report to proper authorities any information which could reflect on the trustworthiness of an individual who has access to SCI."




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