In December 2011, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) introduced pivotal changes to Title 5 Code of Federal Regulations Part 731 (5 CFR 731), specifically addressing "Suitability" considerations. This amendment mandated period reinvestigations (PR) for all covered Public Trust (PT) positions, marking a significant shift in the oversight of positions within the competitive and excepted services.
Key Changes and Designations
Under the revised regulation, agency heads are mandated to classify covered positions into high, moderate, or low-risk categories based on their potential impact on service efficiency and integrity. PT positions at high and moderate risk levels fall under the purview of these reinvestigations.
Previously, limited PR authority was applicable, primarily in information technology roles. However, the new mandate extends the requirement for National Agency Check with Local Agency Check and Credit Check (NACLC) for Moderate Risk PT positions and Periodic Reinvestigations (PRI) for High Risk PT positions at 5-year intervals.
Implications and Scope
The scope of the new rule extends to covered positions, emphasizing the need for consistent oversight. Additionally, it delineates provisions for reinstatement within a specified time frame without necessitating a new investigation, aligning it with the duration utilized for national security positions.
Impending Changes in National Security Positions
A crucial aspect intertwined with these revisions pertains to 5 CFR 732, addressing National Security Positions. OPM's comments within the final rules for 5 CFR 731 shed light on forthcoming alterations in part 732 regulations.
The impending alteration aims to establish a 5-year reinvestigation cycle for national security positions not mandating eligibility for classified information access. This nuanced clarification emphasizes the necessity for reinvestigations based on position sensitivity levels, irrespective of the requirement for access to classified information.
Impact and Obligations
This shift holds significant implications for individuals holding Secret or Confidential clearances. The revised cycle accelerates reinvestigation timelines, underlining the immediate need for disclosure concerning personal matters like alcohol, finances, or mental health treatment, to adhere to security obligations.
Future Investigative Standards and Reforms
The future trajectory of investigative standards, as hinted in OPM's comments, indicates ongoing assessments and reforms under Executive Order 13467. These prospective federal investigative standards might embrace automated records and could potentially redefine the investigative process for public trust positions.
The August 2011 Federal Investigative Standards issued by OPM, mentioned in Federal Investigation Notice (FIN) No. 11-04, while initially perceived as a permanent shift, might only represent interim adjustments. OPM's ongoing efforts suggest a continual evolution of investigative standards, aimed at optimizing the process for enhanced efficiency and accuracy.
The evolution of regulations concerning periodic reinvestigations in federal positions underscores a fundamental shift in oversight and obligations. These changes demand a proactive approach from individuals within covered positions, emphasizing transparency and immediate reporting in alignment with evolving security requirements.