Suitability Determinations

“Suitability” refers to a person’s identifiable character traits and conduct sufficient to decide whether employment or continued employment would or would not protect the integrity or promote the efficiency of the service.

Code of Federal Regulations (5 CFR 731) establishes criteria and procedures for suitability investigations, determinations, and actions. Suitability investigations are conducted under this authority for all covered positions. Covered positions include:

  • Competitive service positions;
  • Career appointments in the Senior Executive Service; and
  • Excepted service positions that can be non-competitively converted to competitive service.

A suitability action (defined at 5 CFR 731.203) is an outcome taken by OPM or an agency under the procedures of 5 CFR 731 and include the following:

  • Cancellation of eligibility;
  • Removal;
  • Cancellation of reinstatement eligibility; and
  • Debarment.

Determinations made about an employee’s suitability may be appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board where, depending upon the circumstances, the Board may be able to conduct a full review of the OPM or agency’s determination.

Employment and Labor Law Unit (ELLU) attorneys are able to advise managers and supervisors to make informed suitability determinations. ELLU attorneys work frequently with Human Resources professionals and assist with suitability proposals and decisions. If you have concerns regarding the suitability of any applicant for employment or that of a current federal employee, contact the ELLU and your Human Resources professionals for assistance.

More information on suitability determinations can be found in the following OPM publication: assistance.

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