EPA Watchdog Dings Itself For Not Always Vetting Job Applicants' Credentials
The inspector general office says it needs to require managers to verify the work history and references of potential hires.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s watchdog doesn’t require its managers to verify a job candidate’s employment history or references, which could lead to bad hires, according to a new report.
While guidance exists advising human resources staff and hiring managers within EPA’s Office of Inspector General to check applicants’ references and confirm their resume information, managers are not required to do so. “Once an applicant meets the minimum requirements and is considered eligible for the position, the office relies extensively on the applicant self-certifying the information they submitted on their resume and application,” the Feb. 5 report said. The OIG conducted the audit of its own office between June 2014 and August 2014.
For most federal hiring, applicants submit their resume and then fill out an assessment questionnaire that HR staff use to screen and rate candidates. HR personnel check resumes against the self-assessments to see if information matches up and whether the candidate is qualified for the job. Documentation on veterans’ preference, if applicable, also is verified. But a candidate could lie about work history, qualifications and education and still manage to get hired if references and work history are not independently verified. If the EPA’s watchdog found its own vetting process for new hires to be vulnerable, it’s likely a problem throughout the federal government.
EPA’s OIG has 295 employees; the audit did not include any detailed investigation into the office’s new hires as part of the report. The audit recommended requiring hiring managers to verify a candidate’s work history and references before making a final decision on hiring, which the deputy inspector general agreed with.
Department watchdogs are responsible for making sure agencies are proper stewards of taxpayer money, but that doesn’t make them immune to inefficiencies or oversight. In two other separate audits released this week, the EPA IG criticized itself for not always filing overtime requests and authorizations properly, or complying with its time and attendance process.
“As a result of the issues noted, the OIG may have incurred overtime charges without proper authorization, may have made after-the-fact approvals, and did not comply with records management requirements,” the audit on overtime concluded.
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