Bush orders reciprocity for employment suitability decisions

President George W. Bush today ordered agencies to recognize each other’s previous favorable decisions when determining the fitness and suitability of federal contractors, along with employees who are part of the excepted federal service. Bush also said it is necessary to re-investigate people in positions of “public trust” to ensure they remain suitable their jobs.

The executive order, was issued "to simplify and streamline the system of federal government personnel investigative and adjudicative processes to make them more efficient and effective,” the document states. The director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was ordered to implement the policy.

According to federal regulations, public trust positions can involve policy making, major program responsibility, public safety, health or law enforcement duties, fiduciary responsibilities or access to financial records.

With the exception of people in public trust positions, the order said agencies’ favorable eligibility determinations should be reciprocal provided that:

  • Suitability standards that meet OPM criteria were used in the original determination and the current determination.


  • The applicant had no break in employment since the original favorable determination was made.


However, agencies are not required to grant reciprocal recognition of another agency's prior favorable determinations when:


  • A new position requires a higher level of investigation that previously completed.


  • An agency gets new information that calls into question the person’s fitness to serve based on character or conduct.


  • The person’s investigative record shows conduct that is incompatible with the duties of the new position.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.


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