News & Resources

D.C. Mayor calls for better background checks

Mar 05, 2011 Matt Roesly

Worried that the pre-employment screening process for excepted service applicants was not stringent enough, Washington, D.C.'s mayor recently ordered a top-down review of all appointees in his administration. When appointing his cabinet members, Mayor Vincent Gray required background checks on candidates' personal, civil and criminal histories, along with credit reports, property ownership and education, legal and business affiliations, according to a news release. But in moving quickly to fill top-level positions, Gray said those appointees were not subjected to rigorous screenings as cabinet members were. "While it is hoped that candidates for jobs such as these would voluntarily reveal significant aspects of their history that could influence the decision to hire them, clearly that has not always occurred," said Gray. The "unprecedented" order will apply to all current and future excepted service appointees, the release said. Background checks are a necessary part of the screening process and can flag past behaviors that may lead to workplace fraud or violence. In New Mexico, Harrison Schmitt was nominated to head the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, but was recently disqualified when he refused to submit to the background check process that state law requires.