OPM Moves Toward Continuous Screening of Federal Workforce

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer February 23, 2023

​All federal employees would be subject to continuous background screening—the process of monitoring employee records on an ongoing basis to flag post-hire threats or concerns—under a new proposed rule.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is looking to implement an automated process for screening federal employees that takes "advantage of a wider spectrum of data, reduces time-intensive manual processing, and promotes greater mobility of the workforce by providing vetting processes that enable each individual's vetting status to be continuously up-to-date," the federal HR agency said.

We've rounded up articles from SHRM Online and other outlets to provide more context on the news.

Heightened Vetting

Under the proposed process, federal employees would be subject to continuous background checks. The process relies on automated checks of criminal records, credit reports, driving records, certification or licensure expirations, and activity on workplace devices to flag suspicious behavior.

"The nature and specificity of continuous vetting checks will be further defined in supplemental issuances, but requirements will account for position risk and sensitivity designations," OPM said, noting that medium and high-risk populations will be subject to more consistent checks than low-risk populations.

It is the first time that low-risk roles are subject to ongoing investigations. The shift to continuous screening will not have an impact on the requirement for agencies to conduct an initial prehire background check for candidates applying to federal jobs.

(Federal News Network)

Employers Are Interested in Continuous Screening

Continuous screening is more widely available due, in large part, to advances in technology. SHRM Online chose the practice as a rising trend to take note of in 2019 and 2020.

(SHRM Online)

Adoption Is Still Low

But while employers are talking about continuous screening, it hasn't caught on among most companies yet.

(SHRM Online)

Some Companies Have Cut Back on Screening Overall

Many employers have been rethinking how they vet job applicants in a historically tight talent market. Some have reduced or eliminated requirements for pre-employment screening with the goal of speeding up the hiring process and tapping into a wider talent pool.

(SHRM Online)



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