With faked degrees, U.S. tech official ran law enforcement data systems for years. Then he resigned, got a new gov job.

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A technology officer with faked college degrees resigned from the Interior Department after he was busted. He was then hired by the Census Bureau.

From Ars Technica:

The Department of the Interior's computer systems played a major role in the breach of systems belonging to the Office of Personnel Management, and DOI officials were called before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday to answer questions about the over 3,000 vulnerabilities in agency systems discovered in a penetration test run by Interior's Inspector General office. But there was one unexpected revelation during the hearing: a key Interior technology official who had access to sensitive systems for over five years had lied about his education, submitting falsified college transcripts produced by an online service.

The official, Faisal Ahmed, was assistant director of the Interior's Office of Law Enforcement and Security from 2007 to 2013, heading its Technology division. He claimed to have a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and a master's degree in technology management from the University of Central Florida—but he never attended either of those schools. He resigned from his position at Interior when the fraudulent claim was exposed by a representative of the University of Central Florida's alumni association, who discovered he had never attended the school after Ahmed accepted and then suddenly deleted a connection with her on LinkedIn.

After being found out, Faisal didn't have to stop working for the government altogether. Nope. He just dusted his pants off and got himself a brand-new government job at the Census Bureau. He is reported to still be working there.

From the National Journal's coverage:

Ahmed's name is redacted in the report, but Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis referred to him by his full name multiple times while discussing the report at a Wednesday subcommittee hearing of the House Oversight Committee. Lummis is chairwoman of the committee's subpanel on the Interior Department.

According to the report, Ahmed obtained false university transcripts through an online service. He claimed to have obtained a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh and a master's degree from the University of Central Florida, and submitted fake transcripts to his government file.

Lummis said Wednesday she was disturbed by the level of access that Ahmed had. "I'm a little concerned—no, well, I'm more than a little concerned that he had access to law enforcement sensitive materials and other secure information, that he had falsified his background, and that now it appears that he is working for another federal agency, the U.S. Census Bureau," she said.

Notable Replies

  1. Looks at own CV full of non fake degrees.
    Thinking about my own unemployment...

  2. Honestly, I'm concerned by the falsified degrees and haphazard vetting, not that someone without a set of all-hallowed pieces of paper had access to government records.

  3. It might be a result of well-meaning, but stupid, hiring and promotion regulations that require you to have a degree to rise above a certain level.

    I spent 49 years in government IT as a developer, and was frequently creating things that were far beyond anything the universities were teaching. Had I wanted to move into upper management, I would have had to go back to college (I had only 3 semesters of pre-engineering, before I left college for the Air Force), and take classes that were far below what I had already done, just to get the magic piece of paper so I could get promoted from low-level team leader/supervisor to mid-level management.

    This guy may well have been competent in his field, but stuck due to a lack of a required, but generally unnecessary, college degree. If he just faked everything, that's a different story, but his superiors seem to have been happy with his job performance before the fraud was uncovered.

  4. On the plus side, this sort of blatant fakery is clear evidence that the OPM background check data that gushed forth to parties unknown is clearly less valuable than commonly believed! Vindication, truly serious crisis denied, situation averted!

  5. The concerning thing is the...ethical flexibility...especially when combined with the fact that it creates a comparatively easily discoverable secret that the target might be willing to go to some lengths to conceal if threatened with exposure.

    Neither of those qualities are something you want in your tech department. I find blanket requirements for credentials foolish, especially when dealing with internal candidates where you have actual information; but it is hard to feel good about people willing to lie about the matter.

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