Federal Manager's Daily Report

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OPM has issued a Guide to Federal Employment for Second Chance Applicants, saying in a cover memo to agencies that “qualified individuals, despite past criminal records, not only deserve a second chance, but also have much to offer the federal government.”

The handbook, directed mainly to applicants as the audience, describes provisions of the 2019 Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act, which stated that in general a criminal record is not to be an automatic disqualifier. “Agencies generally are required to make tentative selections from among the highest-rated candidates who can comply with the requirements of the position. These candidates can include people with criminal records,” it says.


It notes criminal history might be disqualifying during the suitability determination phase; under the law, those determinations though must take into account factors including the nature and seriousness of the conduct, the time that has passed and the nature of the occupation, among other factors. However, some laws prohibit federal employment depending on the crime committed or type of position being sought.

The handbook was issued as part of a broader administration initiative on employment of those with criminal records including investing in job training and intensive reentry in federal prisons, providing new workforce grant funding, promoting hiring by federal contractors, expanding “second chance” fellowship programs, and more.

OPM in 2019 had issued a similar but less detailed guidebook called the Second Chance Act Federal Job Search Guide under that law as well as guidance under a 2018 executive order with similar goals.

Meanwhile, OPM proposed rules in Wednesday’s (April 27) Federal Register to carry out the 2019 law, which expanded on similar policies first set by a presidential memo in 2016 by adding certain considerations and by requiring OPM to establish procedures for applicants or current employees to allege violations.

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2022 Federal Employees Handbook