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DEA Polygraph Use Triggers Increased Scrutiny of Hiring Managers

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is undergoing policy changes that may cause previous managerial decisions to be scrutinized under new standards. The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ OIG) has reported numerous concerns about the DEA’s use of polygraph examinations in screenings of prospective and current employees. These concerns arose as part of an ongoing compliance review of the DEA’s hiring process, sparking calls from DOJ OIG for immediate attention from agency officials and shining a spotlight on DEA management.

DOJ OIG claims to have uncovered numerous inconsistencies in the implementation of the DEA’s polygraph policy, including hiring applicants who have not successfully completed the polygraph examination. The IG reported that these issues occurred in the hiring of 66 special agents and 11 intelligence research specialists. Additionally, another three special agents did not complete the testing as required. Auditors also found that the agency allowed task force officers who have failed a polygraph examination to remain on DEA task forces. Some instances of improper handling of the polygraph process were reportedly tied to applicants with relatives who currently or previously worked for the DEA. 
The successful passing of a polygraph examination has long been regarded as an important part of the hiring process at DEA. Hiring individuals who have not successfully completed the polygraph process has resulted in potential security risks to DEA operations, as well as the appearance of unfair hiring practices. To mitigate these risks, the DEA has agreed to review employees who previously failed polygraph examinations and require them to retake the appropriate examinations for their position. Additionally, the DEA has committed to adhering more strictly to policy, barring them from hiring applicants who fail their polygraph examination.

Many federal managers know that there is a lot of agency pressure to fill positions, specifically in law enforcement. Decisions made under hiring practices deemed "the norm” in an office may later turn out to be part of controversial or improper hiring practices. If this is the case, those decisions may be scrutinized under the critical lens of new policies. Those involved could be subject to allegations of wrongdoing or discrimination, resulting in administrative actions, criminal investigations, and even civil lawsuits. If an allegation is made against you, it is a necessity, not luxury, to have knowledgeable and effective counsel advocating on your behalf. Your agency attorney is not your attorney. It is the job of the agency attorney to defend the agency – not you.
As a federal manager, you need to have counsel that has specific experience representing employees with your professional vulnerabilities. FEDS Protection offers federal employee policies with $1 million, $2 million, or $3 million in civil liability protection for attorney’s fees and indemnity costs in the event you are sued in your civil capacity.  The FEDS policy also includes $200,000 of legal representation coverage per incident for administrative actions and $100,000 of coverage for criminal defense costs.  Annual premiums for FEDS Protection PLI start at $290 and federal managers and law enforcement officers are eligible for a reimbursement of up to 50% the cost of their PLI policy through their agency.  To learn more about how a FEDS PLI policy can protect you and your career, visit or call (866) 955-FEDS, M-F 8:30am-6pm to speak directly to a representative.

*This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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