Security Clearances as Reference Checks
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.
Job seekers often mistake an agency’s employment suitability process for the security clearance process. It’s no surprise that hiring managers, especially in federal offices facing staffing shortages, would look for opportunities to shorten what can often be a lengthy government hiring process. But whether or not a security clearance could replace reference checks depends upon what a reference check is used for. Although it can be argued whether or not a security clearance establishes character, it should establish a baseline of credibility an trustworthiness. What it doesn’t determine, as the Justice Department IG report notes, is competence and qualifications for a specific position.
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