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News Release

Thursday, January 27, 2005
Contact: Edmund D. Byrnes
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director Kay Coles James Announces Stricter Guidelines Regarding Diploma Mills

"There is no place in the federal government for degrees or credentials from diploma mills."

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director Kay Coles James today announced key revisions to OPM's Qualifications Standards Operating Manual in regard to educational requirements of those seeking to qualify for federal government employment. This new guidance is aimed at helping Agencies better understand how to judge the credibility of an applicant's credentials and claimed professional training.

"OPM policy is absolutely clear," James said. "Bogus degrees from so called diploma mills may not be used to qualify for federal jobs or salaries. The American people expect their public servants to be honest and forthcoming. "

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". James has been actively involved with other members of the federal team including the Department of Education (DoED) in attempts to cut down on the practice of bogus degrees.

"I am grateful for the leadership that has been shown by the Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission in the federal government's battle against diploma mills," said James. "In addition, I want to thank Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) for her dedication to federal employees, her belief in the Merit System Principles, and the resolve she has shown to curtail those submitting fraudulent academic degrees. I would also like to thank Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA) for his firm leadership in the House of Representatives on this critical issue."

"The Office of Personnel Management is the guardian of the Merit System Principles," said James. "Those who purposely attempt to deceive the federal government by misrepresenting their education level should not be allowed to use that deception when competing for positions against others who have legitimate credentials."

OPM has outlined a number of steps that agencies may use to protect both themselves and their employees who may be considering furthering their education, including a review of legal and regulatory policy governing the use federal funds for coursework leading to a degree.

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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