Watchdog Says EPA Not Vetting Job Candidates

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The Environmental Protection Agency will hire up to 800 people by the end of summer, so it might concern taxpayers to know that EPA officials don’t thoroughly vet job candidates.

EPA hiring heads didn’t verify employment history or references of any new employees scrutinized by the EPA Office of Inspector General, according to a report released Monday. IG investigators reviewed 25 new-hire files, “none” of which “contained documentation that prior employment or references were verified,” the IG report said.

Perhaps even more problematic, the IG said, is the EPA’s own human resources bulletin doesn’t require staff to run reference or employment history checks.

“Without a requirement, there is no assurance that a verification of prior employment or references for prospective job candidates is conducted or consistently performed,” the IG report found. “In addition, without the verification, the EPA may not hire the best-qualified candidate, and is at risk of hiring an applicant based on false information.”

Resume padding isn’t unknown among civil servants.

A 2004 Government Accountability Office study found 463 federal employees across eight agencies had bogus academic credentials on their resumes. Twenty-eight of those were in senior positions, a number GAO said was probably an “understatement.”

Last month, members of Congress learned a Department of Interior employee with two fake college degrees worked in the agency for five years  — then took a job with the U.S. Census Bureau.

At least the EPA verified candidates’ academic degrees, the IG said. EPA officials agreed with the IG that they need to require employment history and reference checks.

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