Failure to sign a formal separation agreement can have dire consequences for rank-and-file State Department employees, an agency whistleblower told The Daily Caller.
That is in stark contrast to what happens to top-level officials such as former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton if they refuse to sign the separation form, OF-109.
Ramifications for lower-level State Department employees include the withholding of retirement benefits and possible investigations conducted by the agency into why employees declined to sign the form, whistleblower Richard Higbie says.
By signing OF-109, agency employees affirm that they have turned over all records — classified or unclassified; emails or physical documents — pertaining to official government business.
Whether or not Clinton — who used a private email account hosted on a private server to conduct official business — signed the document when she left office in Feb. 2013 was finally answered on Tuesday by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
Psaki said that it does not appear that Clinton signed the document when she left the agency.
She added that it does not appear that Clinton’s predecessors, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, signed the exit document either.
Though signing OF-109 is listed in the Foreign Affairs Manual as one of the requirements outgoing employees must fulfill before leaving the agency, Psaki sought to downplay the issue.
“We’re not aware of any penalty for not signing it,” she told reporters. “It’s not a violation of any rule.”
“It’s not clear that this form is used as a part of a standard part of checkout across the federal government or even at the State Department,” she continued. “We’re looking into how standard this is across the federal government and certainly at the State Department.”
But Higbie strongly disputed that claim, saying that while it may not have consequences for officials like Clinton, career agents have to sign the form.
“You don’t have a choice,” he told TheDC. “They will not give you your retirement benefits if you don’t sign the separation agreement.”