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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Contact: Edmund D. Byrnes
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Associate Director Discusses Steps Being Taken to Combat the Use of Diploma Mills

Statement comes during press conference sponsored by Members of Congress and federal agencies

Washington, D.C. - In an effort to expose diploma mills, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) joined the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Trade Commission, and Members of Congress to announce new resources to better educate the federal workforce and potential students about fraudulent practices. The conference was held Tuesday in the Rayburn House Office Building.

"OPM has aggressively tracked and dealt with diploma mill issues since the mid-1980s," said OPM's Stephen Benowitz, Associate Director for Human Resources Products and Services. "Our position has been consistent and clear—there is no place in federal employment for credentials from diploma mills. We have worked closely with the Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Government Reform to identify and address issues relating to diploma mills and how they affect federal government employment."

OPM has provided ongoing guidance to federal departments and agencies by way of memoranda to their leadership making it clear that so-called "degrees" from diploma mills will not be accepted for purposes of qualifying for federal positions, for student loan repayment, and for purposes of paying for employees to obtain college degrees.

In addition, OPM has provided a number of training sessions for federal human resources management and personnel security staff to train them about diploma mills, how they work, and how to treat applications claiming degrees from diploma mills.

Recently, OPM has revised provisions to its Qualifications Standards Operating Manual in regard to educational requirements of those seeking to qualify for federal government employment. The new guidance is aimed at helping agencies better understand how to judge the credibility of an applicant's credentials and claimed professional training.

The issue of diploma mill degrees has been a front burner issue since it came to light in 2003 that several high level officials within the federal government received "degrees" from mail order companies that charged thousands of dollars and required little or no study in exchange for a diploma from their "institution."

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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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