Cummings Lauds Obama Administration’s Final Rule to “Ban the Box” in Federal Hiring

Nov 30, 2016
Press Release

Cummings Lauds Obama Administration’s Final Rule to “Ban the Box” in Federal Hiring

Bipartisan Coalition in Congress Led By Cummings and Others


Washington, D.C. (Nov. 30, 2016)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a statement commending the Office of Personnel Management for issuing its final rule to promote fair chance hiring policies for federal competitive civil service positions:

“Fair chance hiring policies are supported by a broad bipartisan coalition of Republicans and Democrats because they are a common-sense way to help formerly incarcerated people re-enter the workforce and contribute to our society.  I commend the Obama Administration for finalizing this rule, which will help level the playing field and break the harmful cycles of crime, poverty, and scarce opportunities in our communities.  Congress should continue these efforts by approving our bipartisan legislation to make these changes permanent.”

The Administration’s rule would require federal agencies to wait to ask about criminal histories until applicants are given conditional offers of employment.  The rule would allow agencies to request exceptions if they can demonstrate job-specific reasons to ask for the information earlier in the process.  The rule would apply to federal agency hiring processes for competitive civil service positions.

Cummings introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Fair Chance Act in 2015 along with Rep. Darrell Issa, while Senator Cory Booker and Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson introduced the bill in the Senate.  The bill would permanently codify the requirement that the federal government wait to ask about criminal histories until applicants receive conditional employment offers.  The bill would also apply to prime federal contractors and the other two branches of government, while including exceptions for positions relating to classified information, law enforcement, national security, and the armed forces.

In April, Cummings sent a letter to President Obama along with House Committee on Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott and 50 House Members urging him to promote fair chance hiring policies in the federal government. 

More than 70 million Americans with criminal histories face the daunting task of securing employment after arrests or convictions.  Criminal records reduce the likelihood of callback interviews or job offers by nearly 50% for men, and African-American men with criminal records have been 60% less likely to receive callback interviews or job offers than those without records. 

The movement to “ban the box” has been bipartisan and has included Republicans at the state, local, and national levels:


  •          Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) stated:  “About nine percent of Americans—roughly 20 million people—have a felony conviction in the United States.  Unfortunately, current practice ensures that the 18-year-old who makes a mistake will not only pay for his crime through the justice system, but will continue to be punished for the rest of his life, as he or she is disqualified out-of-hand from consideration for federal employment opportunities, even when qualified for the position.  The message we inadvertently end up sending is that those who commit a crime will never be given a second chance.”
  •          Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL) stated:  “It’s no coincidence that the number of Americans living in our nation’s most impoverished communities has doubled at the same time as the number of people on probation and parole.  While I know that this situation cannot simply be fixed in Washington, I hope that we can help.  Potential employers should not use criminal history to screen out applicants before they even look at their qualifications.  Banning the box would enable almost 20 million people to have a second chance and the opportunity to make a positive contribution to our country.”
  •          Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA) stated after issuing an executive order in Georgia:  “‘Ban the Box’ hiring policies enhance Georgia’s reputation as the number one place in which to do business by increasing qualified applicant pools and improving the likelihood that the employer will identify the best candidate for the position; and Georgia is positioned to enhance its reputation as regional leader by becoming the first state in the South to implement a fair hiring policy for applicants with criminal records.”
  •          Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) stated after signing legislation in New Jersey:  “[W]e are also going further to reform our criminal justice system by signing legislation that continues with our promise and commitment to give people a second chance. … So, today, we are banning the box and ending employment discrimination.  And this is going to make a huge difference for folks who have paid their debts to society, who want to start their lives over again and are going to have an opportunity to do just that in our state.”
  •          Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee:  “I know a guy about my age in Kentucky, who grew marijuana plants in his apartment closet in college.  Thirty years later, he still can’t vote, can’t own a gun, and when he looks for work he must check the box, the box that basically says: ‘I’m a convicted felon and I guess I’ll always be one.’ ... This is a lifelong problem then with employment.”
  •          Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) stated:  “If someone getting out of prison wants to work, wants to be a productive member of society, we should do everything we can to facilitate that. The dignity of work is one of the best ways we can keep people from turning back to a life of crime. This makes our communities safer, keeps families together, and makes people less dependent on the government. I thank Senator Booker for his tremendous leadership on these issues, and am pleased that President Obama recognizes and supports our bipartisan efforts. I look forward to seeing the ban-the-box initiative implemented legislatively and signed into law.” 


114th Congress