Q: I was removed from a federal position for off-duty misconduct. I appealed to MSPB and won for procedural violations. The agency again proposed removal and I entered a settlement agreement with clean resignation “for personal reasons.” In 2015, I applied for a position with the federal government. The OF 306 asks is I’ve been fired, or asked to resign in the last five years for any specific problems. If I say yes, the whole agreement will come up and have to be explained, but I don’t want to say no and have them think I’m falsifying. What should I say?
A: As part of your application for federal employment, you’ll be asked to fill out the Office of Personnel Management’s Optional Form (“OF”) 306. One of the questions on this form asks “During the last five years, have you been fired from any job for any reason, did you quit after being told that you would be fired, did you leave any job by mutual agreement because of specific problems, or were you debarred from Federal employment by the Office of Personnel Management or any other Federal agency?”
If your departure from your previous federal position via a settlement agreement reached as a result of your proposed removal occurred within the last five years, then you must say “yes” to this question. After the five year period passes, you may say “no” rather than “yes.” Although checking “yes” to this question will not automatically bar you from consideration from a federal government position, it may make it more unlikely you will be selected. However, checking “no” despite your knowledge that the opposite is true would expose you to removal due to your falsification of OF 306, a government document. Failure to answer truthfully could theoretically lead to criminal prosecution or, as mentioned above, being fired again, with a determination that you are unsuitable for federal employment.