Fingerprinting, other background check requirements eased for new hires
- By Sherkiya Wedgeworth
- Mar 26, 2020
As many companies providing fingerprint services across the country are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Personnel Management has loosened its background check rules in order to continue hiring new employees.
In a March 25 memo, Michael Rigas, OPM’s acting director, issued guidance to agency leaders on what measures to take during the hiring process when meeting all necessary requirements can't be met.
“Agencies that are unable to collect and process fingerprints due to measures associated with COVID-19 (e.g. closure of offices that take fingerprints) and wish to proceed with onboarding at this time …must follow established guidelines to proceed with vetting, except that the collection and submission of fingerprints may be delayed until fingerprint processing is feasible…,” the memo states.
The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, which is the primary security clearance provider for the federal government, will also defer the collection of fingerprints.
Those agencies can delay reporting the final adjudication of the background investigation until a fingerprint check has been completed.
Rigas also noted that completing Personal Identity Verification (PIV) for prospective employees has also posed a problem because of lack of fingerprinting.
“Although this guidance permits agencies to proceed with determining eligibility for issuance of a PIV credential, the issuance of the credential itself may not be possible due to the agency’s inability to capture fingerprints and other challenges associated with COVID-19 measures,” he said, noting that agencies should consult with guidance from the Office of Management and Budget about issuing alternate credentials.
Some agencies have also reduced or eliminated in person contact completely and are encouraged to temporarily use remote verification services.
View related memos and guidances here.