The U.S. Postal Service hired several employees who failed preliminary criminal screenings or received unfavorable National Agency Check with Inquiries ratings without getting the necessary approval to do so, according to a report issued by the agency’s inspector general Aug. 22.
“Specifically, the Postal Service did not document or maintain approval certifications for employees who were hired with a criminal hit on their pre-screening background check and did not conduct NACI background investigations for all newly hired employees,” the report said.
Applicants for jobs with the Postal Service are not automatically disqualified if their criminal screenings or NACI checks fail, but the agency is supposed to follow documented procedure in actively seeking approval for those new hires in spite of those marks against them.
According to the report, in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, 21 percent of employees that had failed criminal screenings had no evidence of receiving the necessary certification needed to get hired and four percent did not receive the required NACI check afterward.
If prospective employees receive an unfavorable rating from their NACI check, the agency does not have a designated process for how that rating can be overridden and the employee hired anyway.
“Current policy guidance does not explicitly indicate who has the authority to make the final suitability determination for employees who receive unfavorable NACI results, nor does it require formal justification of the decision to retain the employee,” the report said.
“Therefore, districts have inconsistent practices and decisions are being made by a range of individuals in the hiring process with varying levels of supporting documentation being retained.”
Approximately a third of employees that had a criminal hit on their screening or received an unfavorable NACI determination did not have notices of NACI investigation completion on their electronic Official Personnel Folders.
“The eOPF is a repository of an employee’s work history. When Certificates of Completion are not maintained in eOPFs, the Postal Service cannot readily determine whether the NACI investigation was conducted for hired employees; therefore, cannot rely on the information in determining the individual’s suitability for employment,” the report said.
“Additionally, without this information in eOPF, hiring officials may not be aware of potential derogatory information associated with a former employee who was separated from one district but then reapplied for employment in another.”
The report recommended that the chief human resources officer and executive vice president establish a review process to ensure that that all candidates with criminal hits have supporting approval certifications, enhance visibility in the NACI process, conduct NACI investigations for the employees that do not have them on file, designate who has the authority to make final suitability determinations and put in place a review process to make sure that NACI reviews are correctly uploaded to the correct eOPF file.
The agency agreed with the IG recommendations.
Jessie Bur covered the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees for Federal Times.