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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Contact: Brendan LaCivita
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director Kay Coles James Sets Aggressive Agenda for Bogus Degree Training

Fraudulent loan reimbursements to be discussed

Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is continuing its assault on the use of bogus degrees with two diploma mill training seminars on May 5 and May 7, which will provide agency human resource managers and personnel security staff a comprehensive overview of diploma mills and give guidance for detecting and adjudicating bogus or inflated academic credentials. The first set of diploma mill trainings was held last summer.

"In light of the continuing national security emergency and the resurgence of fraudulent education claims, these seminars are particularly timely and appropriate," stated OPM Director Kay Coles James in a memorandum to heads of agencies and departments. "This training is part of OPM's ongoing effort to educate federal human resource and personnel security staff on diploma mill use, and to serve as an information resource."

The half-day seminars (agenda attached) will feature presentations on OPM's training requirements, including the guidelines for appropriate payment for academic degree training, tuition reimbursement, payment of student loans and the means to prevent fraudulent student loan reimbursement; appropriate qualification and education requirements; guidance on OPM's adjudication process; and accreditation by the Department of Education (DOE). Each presentation will provide ample opportunities for seminar attendees to augment their existing knowledge of diploma mills and their use.

"It is critical that federal hiring managers and personnel security staffs have the information necessary to not only detect the use of unacceptable academic credentials, but to prevent their use as well," James stated. "The integrity and credibility of the federal hiring process must be maintained and OPM's continuing efforts, including those with the United States Congress, to drive diploma mill prevention will make certain the system withstands compromise."

To further prevent the use of diploma mills, James has authorized OPM's Center for Federal Investigative Services to hire additional staff to oversee the adjudication of and conduct appropriate follow-up to personnel background investigations where diploma mill and other significant issues are identified. OPM also will initiate oversight audits of agencies' personnel security programs to ensure that national standards for personnel security are being met.

To further educate federal hiring managers, personnel security staff, and those applying for federal jobs, OPM currently is reviewing all federal personnel forms to clearly state that users must distinguish diplomas and other academic training received from schools accredited by an organization recognized by the DOE, from all other sources including diploma mills, and currently is revising guidance to users who visit a variety of federal websites including OPM's USAJOBS website, where job information and applications are available online.

"These changes will improve and facilitate agency collection of information from applicants and employees alike, and substantially assist agencies and various investigative bodies to determine the qualifications and suitability of individuals to perform the important work of government," James stated.

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Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.


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