The Justice Department came under fire earlier this year for failing to check references for law enforcement hires. A report released by the agency’s inspector general found that background checks and security clearance investigations were considered by some to be a replacement for standard workplace reference checks.
There is no actual requirement for reference checks as a part of the Department of Justice hiring process. Government-wide there are no policies concerning reference checks, either, although the Office of Personnel Management encourages federal agencies to check references for every applicant.
The value of a security clearance will not come as a surprise to visitors of this site. Over the years it has become more than simply a tool for determining access to classified information but a credential that demonstrates trustworthiness. It’s likely that the Department of Justice isn’t the only agency which looks at the security clearance process as one critical way of ‘authenticating’ a potential employee.
While a security clearance should demonstrate trustworthiness and honesty, and perhaps answer many questions concerning employee suitability for a position, it is not an adequate assessment of an employee’s past work performance or qualifications, which the IG report noted. If the purpose of a reference check is to establish how an individual will work on a team and what their skills are, it would seem a reference check and a favorable security clearance determination would go hand-in-hand.
Yet with budgets more strapped than ever and hiring managers under continued pressure to fill competitive positions quickly, the value of a security clearance for those who possess one – is likely to rise.
Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves cybersecurity, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.