Happy New Year!  New year and new blog name — Workforce Compliance Insights.

On December 15, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published in the Federal Register a notice listing its priorities.  Under “Suitability” on page 77883 of the Federal Register, OPM states that they will be “proposing modifications to its rules to better ensure that applicants from all segments of society, including those with prior criminal histories, receive a fair opportunity to compete for Federal employment.”  Specifically, the proposed changes would prohibit federal employers from collecting criminal background information “until the best qualified candidates are referred to a hiring manager.”   According to the announcement, “OPM would be providing a mechanism for requesting exceptions when there are legitimate, specific job-related, reasons why agencies may need to disqualify candidates with certain types of adverse history from particular types of positions.”

The proposed rule is in response to President Obama’s recently announced “Rehabilitation and Reintegration for the Formerly Incarcerated” initiatives that call on the U.S. Congress and federal agencies “to pass meaningful criminal justice reform.”  One of President Obama’s long-term initiatives is for the U.S. Congress to pass a national “ban the box” law for federal hiring which would prohibit asking job applicants about criminal history on the job application. In the meantime, President Obama is calling on OPM to modify its requirements related to background checks and the collection of criminal history information.