The Key Elements of Federal Employment Background Screening

By helping to identify individuals who may pose a risk to workplace safety or security, Federal employment background screening plays a critical role in building a safe workforce.


Many federal positions require employees to handle sensitive data, and this requires a proper suitability adjunction process to ensure the employee is fit to work for the government and does not pose any threat or cause data breaches.

This is where government background check companies can be very useful to perform federal employment checks.


Federal Employment Background Screening Overview


Federal employment background screening is the process of conducting a comprehensive check on a potential employee's past, including education, employment history, criminal record, and other relevant information.

These checks help ensure that the candidate is suitable for the position they are applying for and that they do not pose a security risk to the federal government.

The specific background checks required will depend on the position being applied for and the level of clearance required.

Federal agencies typically have their own background screening policies and procedures.


Why Are Federal Background Checks Significant?


Federal background checks are required for individuals seeking employment in sensitive positions, such as law enforcement, intelligence agencies, or positions involving national security.

These checks can reveal information about an individual's criminal history, drug use, financial history, and other relevant factors that may affect their suitability for specific positions or privileges.

Government background check companies are often enlisted to help identify individuals who may pose a risk to national security or public safety and prevent them from obtaining access to sensitive information or facilities.


Key Elements of Federal Background Screening


Federal background screening typically involves a thorough review of an individual's criminal history, employment, and education history, financial and credit history, and other relevant information.

The key elements of the federal background screening may include the following:


I. Criminal History Checks


This is performed to check an individual's criminal records at the local, state, and federal levels to identify any criminal offenses that may disqualify them from holding a certain position or clearance.

  • FBI Fingerprint Checks: This is a more comprehensive criminal history check that involves submitting an individual's fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to check for any criminal records in the FBI's database.
  • National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Checks: The NCIC is a national database maintained by the FBI that contains information on criminal records, fugitives, and other law enforcement-related data.
  • State Criminal Record Checks involve checking an individual's criminal records at the state level to identify any offenses that may disqualify them from holding a certain position or clearance.


II. Security Clearance Checks


This comprehensive background investigation is required for individuals who need access to classified information or sensitive government facilities.

  • Personnel Security Investigation (PSI) Check is a thorough investigation of an individual's background that is required for certain positions in the federal government. The investigation may include interviews with references, neighbors, and other individuals who know the applicant and a review of their criminal and financial history.
  • Background Investigations for National Security Positions involve conducting a thorough background investigation of individuals being considered for positions requiring access to classified information or sensitive government facilities.


III. Employment and Education Verification


This involves verifying an individual's employment and education history to ensure that they have the qualifications and experience required for a certain position.

  • Employment History Verification is conducted by contacting an individual's previous employers to verify their employment history, job title, and job duties.
  • Education Verification involves contacting an individual's educational institutions to verify their degrees, majors, and graduation dates.


IV. Financial and Credit History Checks


These checks are used to review an individual's financial and credit history to identify any financial issues that may disqualify them from holding a certain position or clearance.

  • Credit Checks involve checking an individual's credit report to identify any negative credit history, such as bankruptcy or delinquent accounts.
  • Financial Disclosure Checks require reviewing an individual's financial disclosures to identify any potential conflicts of interest or other financial issues that may impact their suitability for a certain position or clearance.


Legal and Regulatory Requirements for Federal Employment Background Screening


The legal and regulatory requirements for federal employment background screening are established by various federal laws and regulations to ensure that federal agencies and employers comply with applicable laws and regulations and that individuals are screened fairly and consistently.

One of the primary laws that govern federal employment background screening is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which establishes requirements for employers who use consumer reports, such as credit reports, in employment decisions. It requires employers to obtain written consent from job applicants before obtaining a consumer report and to provide a copy of the report to the applicant if adverse action is taken based on the report.

In addition to the FCRA, federal agencies and employers must also comply with the Privacy Act of 1974, which establishes requirements for the collection, use, and dissemination of personal information by federal agencies, and the Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 5200.2-R, which establishes requirements for security clearance background investigations.

Federal agencies and employers must also follow the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) guidelines for conducting background investigations. These guidelines provide detailed instructions on the types of investigations that must be conducted for different positions and the methods for conducting the investigations.


Risks and Limitations Associated with Federal Employment Background Screening


One of the risks of federal employment background screening is the potential for inaccurate or incomplete information. Another risk is discrimination based on certain characteristics, such as race, gender, or national origin.

Employers must ensure that their screening policies and practices comply with federal laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

There are also limitations associated with federal employment background screening. For example, background checks may not provide a complete picture of an individual's suitability for a position.

Certain third-party companies that perform employment checks may not be entitled to conduct FBI checks. Further, some types of criminal activity may not be captured by background checks, and individuals may be able to conceal information about their past behavior.


In Conclusion


Federal employment background screening plays a critical role in building a safe workforce by helping to identify individuals who may pose a risk to workplace safety or security. By thoroughly screening job applicants and employees, employers can reduce the risk of workplace violence, theft, fraud, and other security incidents.