Senators urge OPM to rescind proposed background investigation rule

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers has joined efforts to ask the Office of Personnel Management to revoke a current notice of a proposed rule change that would require federal job seekers to disclose some non-conviction records in order to be considered for employment.

In a recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), OPM proposed to require federal job applicants and contract workers to disclose whether they have participated in any pretrial diversion or intervention programs in the last seven years.

Currently, applicants are only asked about recent convictions and periods of incarceration.

Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Mile Lee (R-Utah) in an April 23 letter to acting OPM Director Margaret Weichert, contend that including programs that are designed to expunge an individual’s criminal record while conducting the federal hiring process contradicts prison-reform efforts.

“This NPRM is inconsistent with and subverts efforts at the state and federal levels to promote reintegration and rehabilitation programs,” the pair wrote, adding that additional questions should not include conviction alternative programs. 

According to the lawmakers, the NPRM claims that asking about diversion programs would “close a [question] gap” and improve application accuracy. “But this is a solution in search of a problem,” the letter states.

“Applicants should not have to disclose behavior that may not have resulted in conviction on a job application,” it continued.

They are asking that Weichert rescind the proposed rule change under grounds that the “federal government should be leading the charge to encourage reintegration and rehabilitation,” instead of doing the opposite.

Read the letter here.

Reader comments

Tue, May 28, 2019

Continue the way we do background checks. Need to keep criminals out of the government. The senators must have some criminals they want to get in. This shows they are not working for the Americans only self interest.

Sat, May 18, 2019 ROBERT NEW JERSEY


Sat, May 18, 2019

I don't think the government should be leading reintegration of ex convicts. There are too many positions in the government that allow access to sensitive private records. I believe in second chances and in rehabilitation but not with a government job. The sanctity of working for the government should be preserved. We have enough individuals working here who abuse their position. We don't need more.

Thu, May 16, 2019

A court would not consider someone who was successful in a diversion or deferred prosecution program as being convicted or guilty & neither should the federal government. The conditions set in such programs are specific to first time offenders (e.g., a DUI, writing a bad check, etc.) and the circumstances surrounding the charge along with stringent requirements to be successful in having their record expunged. I think it would be a big mistake to change the questioning for applicants and not completely in alignment with the spirit of these programs. For once, I agree with the politicians on this one and that is saying a lot :)

Sun, May 12, 2019 Allison

Federal workers have been undergoing and passing stringent reinvestigations every 5 years of their career and now a few people want to let the criminals or those involved in being charged in without question? I suppose that's just another regulation they want to squash because someone is trying to get their friend in the government. It all comes down to nepotism folks. Doesn't it?

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