Proposals to Resolve Longstanding Problems in Investigations of Federal Employees

FPCD-77-64: Published: Dec 16, 1977. Publicly Released: Dec 16, 1977.

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Authority to conduct investigations of federal personnel is based on Executive Order 10450 which united previously separate suitability, security, and loyalty programs under the framework of a security program. The Civil Service Commission (CSC) is primarily responsible for conducting such investigations.

Since 1953, new laws and court decisions have imposed constraints in the investigation process which have had the effect of reducing the authority of employing agencies to remove employees under the provisions of the Executive Order and limiting CSC ability to obtain information bearing on its suitability for employment. Federal regulations provide criteria for agency classification of positions according to the sensitivity of their duties which indicates to CSC what type of investigation to conduct. Criteria for these determinations are not clear, and many positions are classified as nonsensitive although they involve a high degree of public trust. The national agency check and inquiry as now conducted are inadequate for employees in positions with sensitive duties, while the extent of investigation is excessive for the majority of positions. Deficiencies noted in the CSC information system were: (1) the information gathering system has few limits or controls; (2) CSC has no overview on how the agencies use the information; (3) it disseminates information developed during investigations even though much of the information may have little relationship to disloyalty; and (4) security files maintained on supposedly subversive individuals are not specifically authorized.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should consolidate into one law the authority to investigate and judge the suitability of federal employees including their potential to impair national security. CSC should: (1) improve agencies' consistency in classifying positions as to the scope of investigation needed, establish criteria to provide clear instructions on classifying positions based on sensitivity of duties, and assign more people to the review of agency classifications; (2) ensure that occupants of sensitive positions are investigated properly by establishing necessary controls and clear criteria; (3) ensure that loyalty investigations protect the interests of the government and the rights of individuals; and (4) ensure that investigative information is limited to that which is needed to make suitability, security, and loyalty determinations.


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