The Air Force, bucking administration policy, for more than a year has required all its employes -- including thousands with no access to secrets -- to sign a controversial new security pledge, Air Force officials said yesterday.
The Information Security Oversight Office, which monitors use of the pledge, recently advised Air Force officials that their practice "was not what the administration intended," said one Air Force official who asked not to be named.
In response to the rebuke, the Air Force practice is now under review, with a decision expected within several weeks, the official said.
A Reagan administration regulation forbids federal agencies to solicit signatures from employes who do not have security clearances, and therefore have no access to classified data.
The Air Force's aggressive approach to ineligible employes since July 1986 was confirmed by Air Force spokesman Capt. John Butz.
The Standard Form 189 requires officials to agree not to disclose "classified" or "classifiable" data, and some congressmen and administration officials have argued that it will impede the flow of legally releasable information from the administration to Congress and the press.
Steven Garfinkel, director of the Information Security Oversight Office, said last week he has been "troubled" by reports of various aggressive practices by the Air Force. He said he had received reports that one or two other agencies, which he refused to identify, had been soliciting signatures from employes without clearances.
Garfinkel said he notified each of the agencies that they were in violation of administration policy, but said he did not know whether they had corrected their practices.
The administration announced Friday it would halt the withdrawal of security clearances from employes refusing to sign the form pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the pledge. However, agencies are to continue requesting employes to sign the form.
An Air Force official said the service between July 1986 and last June obtained 750,000 signatures, of which at least 150,000 apparently came from employes without security clearances.
If an Air Force employe without a clearance declines to sign the form, his refusal is entered into his records and he is declared ineligible for jobs requiring access to classified materials, Butz said.