Improving Drug Testing for Federal Employees

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In an effort to make drug testing for employees of the federal government more accurate, to deter false positives and false negatives it has been suggested to use alternative methods of testing. The Associated Press reported a movement by the federal government to "overhaul its employee drug testing program". (TAP, pg 1) Currently, the government tests its employees during the pre-employment selection and when accidents occur on the job. Both instances use urine testing and this particular test in not 99.99% guaranteed to show true results; when the drug was consumed or how much is currently in the employees system. The federal government is looking to lower cost and also prevent persons who are tested from being able to use the "cheat" (TAP, pg 1) method. Diluting the sample obtained, refusing the test and other methods are commonly used by employees to deter the true results of the test. They explained "even though employees can be tested at any time the instances of the tests are generated by the severity of the position the employee holds". (TAP, pg 2) Federal employees may be working at a site requiring hard hats and maneuvering heavy machinery or are behind a desk crunching numbers; the decision to test the individual is derived from upper management. The main focus for the federal governments revamping of drug screening to be able to better determine the timeframe in which the drugs were used and the accuracy of the test. Also, the idea of the new test is to deter workers from finding ways around testing positive and also to stop the inaccuracies of falsely discrediting workers. As they explain with "testing workers' hair, saliva and sweat, testers are able to draw more accurate conclusions which will lessen the false positives" (TAP, pg 2) this will enable the employer to decide if the drug usage did affect or cause the outcome of the negative actions. Hesitation from the federal government to put these tests in place is also derived from the idea that the alternative tests would provide the employers with unnecessary information as to the timeframe of consumption (TAP, pg 1) thus giving them the upper hand in taking and "cheating" the test. At this point, it is under review for how far a company can go with drug testing without infringing on workers privacy. Because testing urine for illegal substances for example can not differentiate between consumption of marijuana for same day usage or five days before an incident occurs.

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