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If you are looking for information on legal action regarding HSPD 12, please see this page:

Welcome to the fight against JPL's rebadging process. This wiki contains information about why the $6 million rebadging process is unfair, unethical, and illegal. Read for yourself about it, and if you agree with us, join our fight against it!

For a more current and complete web page on the fight against the use of HSPD-12 to mandate background checks for all in JPL, please visit:

This wiki has several pages of related information:

  • Main Page - The page you are reading, with information about what you can do to help fight the rebadging process
  • Overview - A description the JPL rebadging process and its various steps
  • Controversy - A list of some of the many reasons JPL rebadging process is unfair, unethical, illegal, and anti-JPL
  • Latest News - All the latest news and events, in blog format
  • Legal Action - Information on legal challenges to the process
  • HSPD-12 Primer (PDF) - Description on how the directive originated and how the implementation reached JPL


How you can help fight the JPL rebadging process

Inform yourself

The best thing you can do is to become informed. You may be shocked when you find out what is really involved, how dangerous it is, and how much of your freedom you are giving up. To get rebadged, you don't simply provide information on forms-- you provide information that begins an investigation of you. Did you know:

  • That SF85 remains in effect for two years, whether or not you stay at JPL? In other words, federal agents can use your SF85 release as permission to investigate you for two full years, even if you are no longer affiliated with a federal agency.
  • That you are required to list a neighbor for each current and prior residence, and that these neighbors will be contacted with a questionnaire about you?
  • That the release form on the SF85 or SF85P authorizes an investigator to obtain "any information" on you from schools, residences, employers, criminal establishments, and any other sources?
  • That because of the rights you waive, the investigators are explicitly "not limited" in who they can contact about you and what they can ask?
  • That you will be asked whether you have taken illegal drugs? That others will be asked whether you abuse drugs/alcohol?
  • That others will be asked whether you are mentally/emotionally stable?
  • That the new rules prevent JPL from issuing retiree badges?
  • That the official SF85 and SF85P forms describe the process as "voluntary," but that JPL will terminate your employment if you don't fill it out?

Of course, if someone should go around goofing off dangerously, there'd be a scandal! a biiiiig juuuuuuuiiiicyy scandal! Remember Lisa Nowak? that what Unca Sam's afraid of. So just be careful, if you're not under SF85. That's all.

This is just a sampling of why the process is causing concern. If these provisions worry you even a little, you may want to read the detailed description of the controversies.

Delay filling out the rebadging form

If you have concerns about the "authorization for release of information" you are being asked to sign, you do not need to respond to the email requesting you to complete the SF85 or SF85P, according to Amanda Beckman-Hezel. You may delay it until your questions are adequately answered. A number of these questions are still pending. For example, some have suggested alternate wording of the release form-- is this OK? Some have asked what limitations, if any, there are on the investigations? For example, will medical and financial information be off-limits? If so, you might want to wait until this is verified in writing by a government lawyer.

If you decide you need to participate in order to save your job, that is certainly understandable. We all must make the tough choice. However, you can still delay your participation until the last possible moment. You are given "10 days" to respond to the email-- that is an artificial timeline. JPL actually has 30 days from the time they open your account with OPM to the time they submit your completed package. After 30 days, there is no explicit penalty, other than JPL has to go through the trouble of "reinitializing" you by opening a new account for you again.

The power of delay is important. Consider what would happen if even 25% of the lab failed to meet the October 26, 2007 deadline for rebadging. The deadline might be extended. It might delay implementation. In the meantime, court challenges or congressional action may cancel the rebadging. If we all participate, and participate early, we will all be investigated, with our fingerprints being sent to the FBI's crminal database, and we'll have lost the battle.

Tell your concerns to your supervisor and others

Tell your concerns to your supervisor, and make him or her understand them. Don't use off-topic or vitrolic reasons. Stick to the facts, and use a reasoned argument. Refuse to be pressured into signing the paperwork without first having all your pending questions answered.

Talk to others in your group, and get them informed of the issues by pointing them to information resources. Exchange personal email addresses, in order to have discussions of the topic not bound by JPL's Use of Resources policy (e.g., to discuss letters to Congress). Make rebadging a daily topic, and sneak it into the conversation at every meeting that has new people. We need to promote awareness, otherwise we risk being sheep led to the slaughter of our freedoms.

Write to your Representative or Senators

Several employees have written to federal or local government officials to voice their concerns about the HSPD-12 implementation. Some of those officials are listed below:

Hon. David Dreier, District Office, 2220 East Route 66, Suite 225, Glendora, CA 91740 -- JPL is within his district email form

Hon. Adam B. Schiff, 87 North Raymond Avenue, Suite 800, Pasadena, CA 91103 -- many JPL employees live within his district email form

If you live in another district, you can find your representative and the correct mailing address at House of Representatives. You will need your Zip Code (including +4 in some cases).

California's Senators can be reached via snail mail or email at the locations below:

Hon. Barbara Boxer, 312 N. Spring Street, Suite 1748, Los Angeles, CA 90012 email form

Hon. Dianne Feinstein, 11111 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 915, Los Angeles, CA 90025 email form

Keep the letters short and to the point, reference previous news stories if possible. Also note that submitting your request via email tends to expedite the process significantly. JPL does depend on the efforts of Dreier and Schiff to ensure it's portion of the NASA budget; therefore writing to your representatives will have substantial effects.

Original letters are more convincing and are preferable if you have the time. You can also use a form letter such as the one provided with "A Recourse to HSPD12".

Inform Other Government Employees and Contractors

The HSPD-12/FIPS-201 implementation is not just a JPL or NASA program. It is happening to employees and contractors across all agencies of the government. You likely know other people who will be affected. Tell them of your concerns about the process and encourage them to take action, especially in contacting their representatives in the House and Senate. Point them to this site so they can start getting informed, and be prepared to discuss how this affects them and their colleagues. Action by Congress is more likely if many members of the House and Senate are hearing from their constituents.

"A recourse to HSPD12" provides an easy way to recruit for new members, with a minimum amount of effort.

Ask tough questions and insist on answers

Advertise this wiki and contribute to it

Send the URL of this wiki to your colleagues. They might thank you!

Have you ever edited a wiki? Don't worry, most people haven't. But it is easy! Just find listing on the page you feel you can contribute to, and click the "edit" link on the right-hand side. This will bring you to a web page where you can type in your update. No web design is needed, no knowledge of HTML. This is a living document, so have at it!

Join the HSPD12JPL list server to share information

Go to and click on "Join This Group!" or send an email to Peter Eisenhardt, group moderator, at to get on the group email list or join the group. Note Peter will be on vacation July 20 - 30, so during that time please sign up at the web site.

Email sent to goes to all members of the list. Replies to such messages will also go to the whole list, so think twice before replying. New members must be approved, so that it doesn't get taken over by spam.

To be approved, ask Dennis Byrnes, Bob Nelson, Susan Foster or anyone you know who is already on the group to send an email vouching for you to one of the list moderators.

Contact advocates

There are several organizations dedicated to promoting civil liberties, preserving our privacy rights. Please consider writing to them and pleading our case:

Fight the rebadging in court

Some people have suggested that they feel like hiring a lawyer. If you do, please share your experiences. A group of like-minded individuals is joining forces and combining resources to explore legal action. ATTENTION: If you are looking for information on legal action regarding HSPD 12, please see this page: Legal Action

An alternate strategy is to fight in the court of public opinion, see below.

Leave the laboratory

If you decide to leave the laboratory, by either resigning or retiring, and at least part of the reason involves concerns about the rebadging process, you are to be admired for taking strong action! Do not let your strong action speak for itself, however. You need to document that rebadging is the reason you left, otherwise it will have little effect. Dan McCleese, the JPL chief scientist, understands that there are concerns about the rebadging process, and has asked people to send him written evidence from people that the rebadging process played a role in their decision to leave the laboratory or decline an offer of employment. When JPL sees their talent pool draining before their eyes, it can have a big effect. Verbal information, especially if it is not first-hand, is not going to have an effect.

For those who are leaving, letters to the L.A. Times and Pasadena Star-News may also be effective ways of raising awareness of this issue. In fact, this is more effective than hiring lawyers; institutions, particularly universities, will avoid bad publicity at all costs -- and will be more responsive as a result.

File a FOIA request to see your investigation data

You normally would not have access to the information that the investigation found about you. However, you may request a copy of your investigation file under provisions of the Privacy Act. For an investigation request, write to OPM-IS, FOIP, Post Office Box 618, Boyers, PA 16018-0618. You must include your full name, Social Security Number, date and place of birth, and you must sign your request. Call OPM's Federal Investigations Processing Center, Freedom of Information / Privacy Act Services, at 724-794-5612 if you have any questions.

Everyone should do this, for a couple of reasons. First, just as with a credit report, you want to be sure that the information gathered about you is correct. If it is not correct, you want to insist that it be corrected, and verify that it is corrected. This is serious. You don't want to accidentally get on a no-fly list when your name has been confused with a terrorist (this has actually happened).

Secondly, you want to insist that the government operate transparently. It is shameful that a FOIA request is necessary to get this information. Compare this with credit reports-- credit agencies are required to share your credit information with you, but with the rebadging investigation, which has much more personal information, the subject must go through a more difficult process. Until the law changes, we need to press the issue by forcing them to deal with as many FOIA requests as possible.

Status of Rebadging Battles

  • Awareness campaign
  • Congressional notification
  • Court fights against HSPD 12
  • Congressional action
    • Adam Schiff position: "There is no question that [the lab] and other space centers play a vital role in maintaining our national security. At the same time, we must be vigilant here, as elsewhere, to ensure that whatever personal information is obtained from those who work at our science centers is necessary to maintain security and used for only that purpose."
    • David Dreier position: "Mr. Dreier wants to ensure the privacy of [lab] employees is protected."

"Our office has heard from JPL employees and Congressman Dreier shares their concerns regarding personal privacy," said Alisa Do, Dreier's legislative director.

    • Holt
  • Department of Commerce action
  • Permission to use modified release form

Jerry Suitor had the action, with support of the Caltech General Counsel's Office, to draft sample language for any employee concerned with the vagueness of Form 85, to explicitly exclude the items from Form 85P (such as credit check, medical records, etc.) which an employee could insert on their signed Form 85 release as exceptions. Ironically, including this language this could actually trigger a deeper check.

Jerry Suitor is now away from the lab, and Amanda Beckman-Hezel is in his place. Verbal information from her indicates that no language will be allowed, but we will update this space when written information is available.

  • Meaning of release form

Amanda Beckman-Hezel has been asked whether the "other sources of information" clause on the SF85 release is sufficient to allow an investigator to access financial or medical records if he or she deemed it necessary to do so. Beckman-Hezel indicated that she thought California law requires an explicit permission in order to access medical records, and that this form is not explicit permission for medical records. She has been making inquiries and expects to have a more definitive answer during the week of June 4, 2007.

(Doesn't Federal Law take precedence over State Law in cases like this?)

Note, according to the Office of Personnel Management, the agency that conducts background investigations, "a search of the records of commercial credit reporting agencies is an integral part of almost all background investigations." This, despite the fact that credit agencies are not mentioned in the SF85 release form's laundry list of sources they check.

  • Charles Elachi, JPL Director, position

At all hands meetings, Charles Elachi has described the rebadging process as not a big deal, and that he had no problem with it. He understands that people at JPL are concerned, but that the only question that gave him pause was the drug question. He says that he has been assured that as long as you are honest, there won't be a problem, even if you answer that you have taken illegal drugs.

  • Gene Tattini, JPL Deputy Director, position

General Tattini has stated that the successful completion of the rebadging process is critical to the operation of the laboratory.

  • Mike Griffin, NASA Administrator, position

Griffin feels he must obey the HSPD 12 implementation, because it is an executive order with the force of law. His lawyer tells him it is legal. He also views the implementation as "measured and appropriate" and supports it personally. He is sorry some feel otherwise, but if they don't comply, they will not be allowed to access a federal facility. The only recourse, he says, is to file suit. Judging by how often he mentions it, he seems to feel that his personal decision to have a background check when he was 18 is relevant to the question of forcing all federal employees to do the same.

Hall of shame

A number of important people at JPL and NASA have said some things that turned out to be false. Here we set the record straight.

  • "The new ID card will not hold any personal or privacy related information"

The new ID card holds, among other things, the facial photo, citizenship, and fingerprints of the holder. It's hard to get more personal than that. Also, it's not just "held" on the card-- the card uses passive RFID technology, which means that the encrypted data on the ID card can be read remotely without the card-holder's permission, or even his knowledge, unless he magnetically shields the ID card. But since the data is encrypted, the person who manages to access the card would need the encryption keys to decipher the data. Therefore, even if they do access it, the data is completely useless to them.

  • "The rebadging forms are no worse than what you'd go through for a home loan, well, except for the drug question."

In reality, home loans generally require a credit check, along with things such as proof of income, and bank balances. They are limited to the purpose at hand, namely, determining qualification for a loan. In contrast, the rebadging process goes well beyond the purpose HSPD-12 calls for, namely, proper identification (making sure you are who you say you are). Verifying identity does not require--- and neither does a home loan application--- an intrusive background investigation to determine loyalty to the U.S., fingerprinting, selective service record, references from previous neighbors and supervisors, etc., and it does not require the subject to sign a broad waiver of all their privacy rights to unnamed investigators who may ask whoever they want whatever they want. But this type of background check is exactly what JPLers are being required to submit to.

  • "If they came back for further information on anyone who has filled out Form 85, we will push back as that is unreasonable."

Once a rebadging package is sent to OPM, JPL and Caltech don't know what is being asked for, or who is being contacted for information. If an investigator decides that someone's financial or medical information is relevant and started pursuing it, JPL would not be able to push back. JPL/Caltech is not even notified during the adjudication phase, according to Jerry Suitor.

  • "There's a lot of confusion. What we need to do is a better job of educating our employees and contractor employees about what this entails," NASA spokesman Michael Braukus said. "We're not asking for financial data or personal data. That's just been some miscommunication; that's what we need to correct." (Quote from the May 18, 2007 Pasadena Star News front page article).

We are still waiting for NASA to clarify that the highly personal and intrusive SF85 or SF85P forms are not needed as we have been told all along. If they are required, and assuming the press is correctly quoting Braukus, the only ethical recourse for him is to issue a retraction explaining that they are, in fact, asking for personal data.

I, Dennis Byrnes, quoted in the same article, e-mailed Mr. Braukus, first on the afternoon of May 18 with copies to NASA Administrator Griffin, Dep. Adm. Shana Dale, NASA HQ HSDP-12 Project manager Walter Hussey, Shari Feinberg a lawyer in the NASA OGC and Jerry Suitor, JPL HSPD-12 manager. I asked for a retraction, he did not answer. On May 22, I e-mailed him again adding to the previous list his boss and his boss' boss as well as Amanda Hezel, who has now replaced Jerry Suitor. I also copied the Pasadena Star News reporter. Two days later he responded saying he was sorry for the delay that "it was difficult to find any free time." And, "the reporter misquoted me." His e-mail was to me alone with no apparent cc's. The reporter, Elise Kleeman told me that, "she quoted him verbatim. I have my notes from my telephone interview."

  • In the July 2007 JPL Universe (Volume 37, Number 7), Tattini is quoted as saying "All the release form does is to ask permission to verify the entries you've made. It does not give the investigating agency the right to go into your medical records or financial records, unless they come back and specifically ask for your permission. Under no circumstances could this process be used to open your mail or tap your telephones."

Unfortunately, Mr. Tattini is mistaken: the form does NOT state that it is limited to "just verifying the entries you have made". If that were the case, then it would seem that it would be very simple just to modify the form to have it specifically state that (and many of us would probably then find it acceptable). But we are specifically *prohibited* from making any modifications to the form. You can access the form using the links at the bottom of this page to see for yourself what it really says. In fact, the wording of the form is such that access to ANY information from ANY source is explicitly *authorized* if you sign it (i.e., your medical or financial information, your personal e-mail and telephone records, or even client-priviledged legal information, since by signing this you are explicitly waiving "any previous agreement to the contrary"). Note, too, that despite claims that California law requires a court order to access your medical records, Federal law generally trumps state law...

JPL Rebadging in the News

JPL has not officially responded to the complaints on the new process. It has posted a public website to describe the process and provide employees and the public with official information on the new ID card. The controversy is not reported on the official site.

The media has published a number of articles on the controversy:

Other HSPD-12 Related Badging Opposition

These background investigations and intrusions on privacy are not just occuring at JPL and NASA. The implementation of HSPD-12 is a government-wide program that covers all government employees, all government contractors and subcontractors who require "long term" access to government facilities, and potentially anyone who accesses government computer systems.

Other organizations are also opposing the PIV-II badge requirements: Contractors to the US Department of Education

Resistance to HSPD from within apparently was successful in DOE labs. "Under some interpretations of the standard, the system could halt many of the unclassified scientific missions underway at the National Laboratories.", a consortium of CIOs of DOE labs stated in public opposition to FIPS-201.

LNBL, in response to the draft guideliene for HSPD-12 implementation, called for exempting FFRDCs from the policy.

Currently, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab PIV project page states:

"On October 14th, 2005, The Deputy Secretary of Energy signed a memo approving a new interpreatation of PIV which allows uncleared Laboratory employees and facilities to issue current access credentials instead of the PIV Identity Credentials. This effectively exempts nearly all Lab facilities and employees/guests from the PIV requirements."

Similar status is reported by Fermilab.

Reference Documents

-- rv

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