By design, adjudication is an invasive process, meant to unearth risk factors including drug and alcohol abuse, extramarital affairs, a history of violence, and other events that speak to a person’s “trustworthiness” and their susceptibility to blackmail or being recruited to spy for a foreign government.
For instance, “compulsive gambling is a concern, as it may lead to financial crimes including espionage,” the guidelines say. Adjudicators are told to note “a pattern of compulsive, self-destructive, or high risk sexual behavior,” “relapse after diagnosis of alcohol abuse,” and “emotionally unstable, irresponsible, dysfunctional, violent, paranoid, or bizarre behavior,” among other warning signs in 13 different categories.
Some of the embarrassing personal details found in some adjudications have been made public. That’s what happens after an applicant who was denied a security clearance launched an appeal.
But those public reports are anonymous. The names are held back—but are contained in OPM’s adjudication records.