Justice Needs To Address the Problem of Two Personnel Investigations

GGD-82-56: Published: Jul 8, 1982. Publicly Released: Jul 8, 1982.

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GAO evaluated the practice of conducting two personnel investigations on all newly hired Bureau of Prisons employees.

Since all Bureau of Prisons employees are classified as occupying sensitive positions, new employees must undergo background investigations and obtain security clearances. However, since the Bureau does not consider the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) full field investigations to be timely, it has obtained permission to conduct its own investigations. GAO found that these investigations often duplicate each other and that it may be possible to carry out the investigative process more efficiently. In addition, savings could be achieved if OPM discontinued the practice of visiting agencies that have requested full field investigations to obtain information about the individual. GAO believes that security clearances are probably not necessary for all Bureau employees and that a review is needed to ensure that the Bureau's positions are properly classified. Other matters that should be addressed are the need for Justice to streamline the investigative process for personnel who are occupying sensitive positions and the practice of OPM investigators' visiting the Bureau to obtain information on Bureau employees under investigation. GAO believes these visits should be discontinued.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Justice officials said that they will not act on this recommendation. This recommendation has Government-wide applicability. The GAO Federal Personnel and Compensation Division plans to start a survey in this area.

    Recommendation: The Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Bureau of Prisons security staff, should assess the appropriate sensitivity classifications for each of the Bureau's positions. If agreement cannot be reached concerning the classification of correctional officer positions, the Department of Justice should request OPM to audit positions to determine proper sensitivity classifications.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: A survey of this aspect of OPM operations is scheduled to start in November 1982. Justice stated that if OPM cannot substantiate the value of these visits, it will be requested to discontinue them.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should: (1) explore additional ways to streamline the investigative process for persons occupying positions classified as sensitive; and (2) request OPM to discontinue its current practice of visiting Department of Justice agencies to obtain information on employees who are undergoing full field investigations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice


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