Normal Topic Dear Mr. Barland (Read 2460 times)
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Dear Mr. Barland
May 8th, 2001 at 5:14pm
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Simple question for you.

I understand the polygraph is but a component in the security processing matrix. I understand your absolute faith in the device.

But there's an incongruity I find hard to stomach.

You may disagree with this premise, and if you do, feel free to say so, but senior administrators confess the primary reason for the reliance upon pre-employment federal polygraph screening is the excessive cost of conducting background investigations. Fine.

Here's where I have a problem... background investigations are only conducted on persons who _pass_ the polygraph examination. But hold on a second. If the polygraph is so reliable, then ostensibly, through a process of "self-assessment" troublesome backgrounds and integrity are documented in the polygraph room for the majority of applicants. Correct?

The "inconclusives" are simply washed out. Collateral damage. Tough luck.

Where's the sense in this? Wouldn't it be far more cost effective to only conduct background investigations on those persons whose test results were inconclusive?

What's the sense in conducting background investigations on applicants who pass their polygraph with flying colors? They told you everything didn't they? You know everything there is to know. Your box doesn't lie. You're a consumate professional. You know it all.

Besides, the number of "inconclusives" is reported to be only 10% of the number of administered polygraphs, so focussing investigate efforts on this group would (1) eliminate redundant investigation of applicants who pass their polygraph examination with flying colors and (2) turn-up any incongruities in the background of persons with "inconclusive" test results, thereby establishing conclusively whether these persons "passed" or "failed" their polygraph examination.

This method would seem far more cost-effective in the administration of the security screening process, and more logical in light of the complete institutional faith of the bureaucracy and operators in their apparatus.

No?


Peace

--through superior firepower
  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box Gordon H. Barland
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Re: Dear Mr. Barland
Reply #1 - May 9th, 2001 at 6:43pm
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NoMoreSecrets,

Good questions, all.  My expertise is limited to the polygraph, not security policy matters, so ít would be inappropriate for me to comment on this.

One minor correction.  My faith in the polygraph is not absolute.  There is always the possibility of an error in any diagnostic procedure, and the polygraph is no exception.  On the other hand, I do believe the polygraph is far more accurate than most of the posts I've read on this bulletin board would have one believe.

Peace.
  

Gordon H. Barland
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Re: Dear Mr. Barland
Reply #2 - May 10th, 2001 at 3:46am
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Thank you for your reply. Let me pose one follow-up. If you were presented with a policy initiative that aimed at this manner of implimentation, e.a., the polygraph as the primary method of security clearing and background investigations only for persons who were unable to clear a polygraph to the satisfaction of the interrogator (and aside from arriving at an "inconclusive", no other value judgment would be derived from the polygraph), would you endorse its implentation?

I appreciate the fact that you accept a margin of error in polygraphing, and the so-called fact that false-positives are one of the unfortunate consequences of this.

But you must acknowledge that simply writing people off based on the questionable results of a few  interrogations is not only fair to the employee/applicant, but the institution as well. Surely, even with the current process in place there must be _some_ way for a person to clear their name.

It seems to me the entire raison d'etre underlying the current policy is antithetical to American values which the institutions ostensibly serve. No?
  
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Re: Dear Mr. Barland
Reply #3 - May 11th, 2001 at 4:30pm
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I'm glad you distinguish between the pros & cons of the polygraph itself, versus the administrative policies of those who use the polygraph.  It's one thing to fault the polygraph for things the examiners do or don't do.  It's another to blame it for things examiners have no control over.

Again, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on security policies in general.  Each agency has its own set of missions and priorities.  I don't think there should be "one size fits all" approach to many policy matters.  I think most administrators work hard to make the most of their limited resources.

Peace.
  

Gordon H. Barland
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