1. Why do we need a drug program for Department of the Navy employees?
The President, in signing Executive Order 12564 on 15 September 1986, required that all federal agencies implement a program to achieve a drug-free workplace. Even without such a requirement, achieving a drug-free America is one of our nation's highest priorities. In line with that, the Department of the Navy has a compelling obligation to eliminate illegal drug use by its employees due to its national defense responsibilities and the sensitive nature of its work.
2. What regulatory requirements governed the development of the Department of the Navy Drug-Free Workplace Program?
- Executive Order 12564 requires employees to refrain from the use of illegal drugs on and off duty and directs agencies to establish plans for achieving a drug-free workplace.
- Public Law 100-71 passed by Congress, on 11 July 1987, provides for consistent implementation of the Executive Order throughout the federal government and establishes requirements for accurate and reliable drug testing and confidentiality of test results.
- Department of the Navy Drug-Free Workplace Plan certified by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Department of Justice on 27 April 1988, establishes the framework for implementation of the program in Department of the Navy.
- Department of Health and Human Services Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs establish strict procedures for collection and testing of urine samples from employees for detection of drug use.
3. How does illegal drug use impact on the Department of the Navy?
The primary mission of the Department of the Navy is to protect the United States by the effective prosecution of war at sea and to maintain freedom of the seas. The performance of every civilian employee must, at all times, support this mission through a high level of productivity, reliability, and judgment. Illegal drug use by Department of the Navy employees, on or off the job, has a negative impact on employee performance and is incompatible with the mission of the Department of the Navy.
4. Other than refraining from illegal drug use, how can I support a drug-free workplace in Department of the Navy?
You can support the objective of a drug-free workplace by increasing your understanding of the negative impact that the use of illegal drugs has on individuals and their families, and by supporting Department of the Navy's commitment to offering counseling and rehabilitation to employees who sincerely want to get off illegal drugs.
5. What are the key components of the Department of the Navy Drug-Free Workplace Program (DFWP)?
Key components of the Program include supervisory training; employee education; employee assistance through counseling and referral programs; safe harbor; and drug testing.
6. What training or educational opportunities will be provided to Department of the Navy supervisors and managers?
Supervisors play a key role in establishing and monitoring a drug-free workplace. A training course has been developed which will assist supervisors and managers in recognizing illegal drug use by Department of the Navy employees and will also inform supervisors of the procedures they should follow for dealing with illegal drug use problems.
7. What training or education will be provided to Department of the Navy employees?
Activity employees will be offered drug education which may address such topics as the types and effects of drugs; the symptoms of drug use and its effect on performance and conduct; the relationship of the Civilian Employee Assistance Program (CEAP) to drug testing; and relevant information on the availability of treatment and rehabilitation. The drug education process may be accomplished through such means as the distribution of written material such as this set of questions and answers, videotapes, lunchtime presentations and discussions, and drug awareness days.
8. What role does the Civilian Employee Assistant Program (CEAP) play in the DFWP?
The CEAP plays an important role in preventing and resolving drug abuse problems ill the same manner that the program has assisted employees with alcohol abuse problems for many years. Employees are encouraged to voluntarily seek assistance from CEAP for drug abuse problems. CEAP provides information and advice to supervisors; confronts employees referred to the Program who have performance and/or conduct problems; and makes referrals to appropriate treatment and rehabilitation facilities. CEAP also provides follow-up counseling to individuals during rehabilitation to track their progress and encourage full recovery. The cost of actual treatment or rehabilitation is borne by the employee and his or her Federal Health Benefits carrier under the terms of coverage contained in the contract with the insurance carrier. The CEAP is administered separately from the drug testing program and is available to all employees without regard to a finding of illegal drug use.
9. What is "Safe Harbor"?
Under the Executive Order, Department of the Navy is required to initiate action to discipline an employee found to use illegal drugs under any circumstance. The only exception to this requirement is the "safe harbor" provision. Under "safe harbor," Department of the Navy will not initiate disciplinary action against an employee who meets the following three conditions: 1) voluntarily identifies him/herself as a user of illegal drugs prior to being identified through any other means; 2) obtains counseling and rehabilitation through the CEAP; and 3) thereafter, refrains from using illegal drugs. An employee who admits to illegal drug use after being notified that he/she is scheduled for a drug test or just after a sample is collected, or who is found to use illegal drugs on the basis of other appropriate evident, e.g., evidence obtained from a criminal conviction, is not eligible for "safe harbor."
The key to effectiveness of "safe harbor" is that an employee must be willing to admit to having a problem and be willing to seek help to solve the problem.
10. What are the difference types of drug testing that Department of the Navy will be conducting?
The following are the six types of drug testing which will be conducted in Department of the Navy.
- Random Testing: Unannounced testing of employees in positions identified as "Testing Designated Positions" (TDPs). (The identification of TDPs is discussed in Question 11.) Selection of individuals who occupy TDPs for testing is made on a random basis without prior announcement.
- Applicant Testing: Testing required of all individuals tentatively selected for employment in a TDP within the Department of the Navy. Individuals who use illegal drugs will be screened out during the initial employment process before being placed on the employment rolls. Applicant testing will include current Department of the Navy employees who apply for a TDP.
- Accident or Unsafe Practice Testing: Authorized test of any employee involved in an on-the-job accident, or who engages in unsafe, on duty, job-related activity. For example, an accident which results in death or personal injury and/or damage to Government or private property. Before a test is conducted based on an accident or unsafe practice, it must be approved by at least a second level supervisor.
- Reasonable Suspicion Testing: Testing conducted when management has reason to believe that an employee may be using illegal drugs. The suspicion must be based on specific objective facts and reasonable inferences drawn from these facts, and be documented. Approval for such testing must be received from a higher level supervisor. Reasonable suspicion testing could be based on such factors as observed drug use or possession, physical evidence of an employee being under the influence of drugs, or evidence of tampering with a drug test urine sample. Please refer to the section on Typical Warning Signs of Substance Abuse.
- Voluntary Testing: Testing of employees who are not in, but who volunteer for unannounced random testing. Further information on voluntary testing is available from your activity Drug Program Coordinator.
- Follow-up Testing: Testing of employees who undergo a counseling or rehabilitation program for illegal drug use through the Civilian Employee Assistance Program. These employees are subject to unannounced testing following completion of such a program for a period of one year.
11. What are "Testing Designated Positions" and how will they be identified?
When the duties of a position meet the criteria which would make the incumbent subject to random drug testing, the position is referred to as a "Testing Designated Position" (TDP). The criteria for designating a position as a TDP is based on the effect that the incumbent of the position could have on public health and safety or national security through failure to adequately discharge the duties of his or her position. Certain positions, e.g., ones requiring a top secret clearance with access, will be identified as TDPs regardless of the specific duties performed. In others, the TDP designation will be based on the duties of the position, e.g., crane operator, aircraft electrician, etc.
12. Which kinds of drugs will be tested for under the Department of the Navy Program?
Department of the Navy civilian employees will be tested for five types of drugs: Cocaine, Cannabis (Marijuana), Amphetamines, Opiates and Phencyclidine (PCP).
13. Why these drugs?
These drugs were selected by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) based on the incidence and prevalence of abuse in the general population as well as the experience of the Department of Defense's military drug testing program. DHHS has authorized Department of the Navy to test for all five drugs.
14. Will employees know in advance of the testing?
Once the Program is implemented by the activity, the selection of individuals for random testing will always be unannounced. An employee will be notified when and where to report by his or her supervisor approximately 15 to 30 minutes before the test.
15. How often may an agency test any given employee?
There is no limitation on the frequency with which an employee may be tested for illegal drug use. Under random testing, the employee will be tested whenever the sampling method used selects the employee. In addition, the employee could also be tested for some other reason, e.g., post-accident, as determined necessary.
16. What is the test like? Will the employee's privacy be protected?
Yes. Any individual subject to testing will be permitted to provide a urine specimen in private, in a rest room stall or similar enclosure, so that the employee is not observed. The employee will be accompanied into the rest room by an individual of the same sex who will watt outside the stall while the sample is being provided to detect any attempts at adulteration.
An exception to unobserved collection will be made only where collection site personnel have reason to believe the individual may alter or substitute the specimen to be provided or when the basis for conducting the test is reasonable suspicion or follow-up, as described in Question 10. In such a case, collection site personnel, of the same gender as the individual being tested, would directly observe the employee provide the sample. A higher level supervisor shall review and concur in advance with any decision to obtain a specimen under direct observation except in cases of follow-up testing.
17. What if an employee or applicant refuses to appear for a testing?
An employee who fails to appear for testing without a deferral will be subject to disciplinary action. If an applicant for employment refuses to participate in testing, the tentative offer of employment will be canceled.
18. How can I be sure the test results are actually mine?
The Department of the Navy Program, as required by DHHS, mandates a strict "chain of custody" to ensure no specimen mix-ups. Chain of custody procedures in Department of the Navy's testing program ensure that the urine sample taken from an employee is properly identified and is not accidentally confused with any other sample. These procedures apply when collecting, transferring, analyzing and storing the sample. Each employee will be required to sign or initial the bottle used to transfer the sample to the testing laboratory to certify that it contains his or her sample. The bottle will then be sealed. With each subsequent transfer of possession of a specimen, a chain of custody form will be dated, signed, and annotated as to the purpose of the transfer. This provides for control and accountability from the point of collection to the final disposition of the sample.
19. How reliable is the test?
At the laboratory, any specimen identified as positive on the initial screening test will be subject to a second screening test and if positive, then subject to confirmatory test using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) techniques. This is regarded as the most accurate confirmation process by both the scientific and legal communities. GC/MS technology has been used for many years by forensic toxicologists and medical examiners for police, legal and court work. These tests will be conducted by the Navy Drug Screening Laboratories, which have established a record as being among the best, most accurate laboratories in the country.
20. Do drug tests reveal the recency or frequency of drug usage, the quantity of drugs used, or the degree of impairment caused by drugs?
No. A drug test can indicate only that an illegal drug was used based on the drug metabolites that show up in the urine.
21. If an employee tests positive, who will be notified by the laboratory?
The drug testing laboratory may only disclose confirmed laboratory test results to the Medical Review Officer (MRO) for the employee's activity.
22. What does a Medical Review Officer do?
The MRO is a physician, designated by the activity to receive test results, who must be knowledgeable in the medical use of prescription drugs and the pharmacology and toxicology of illicit drugs. The MRO will afford an individual who has tested positive an opportunity to discuss the test result. The employee will be given the opportunity to medically justify the result by identifying and documenting the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications which might have caused the positive test. An employee may present any information, which he or she believes is relevant to the MRO.
23. What happens if the laboratory test is positive?
It is important to remember that a positive test result does not automatically identify an. employee or applicant as an illegal drug user. The MRO will assess whether a positive urine test may have resulted from legitimate medical treatment or from some error in the chain of custody or laboratory analysis.
24. What records are being kept on the testing? Will be test results be part of an employee's OPF?
Test results will not become a part of the employee's OPF, but will become part of the "Employee Medical File System of Records." There are legal Safeguards against inappropriate disclosure of test results.
25. What if an employee is found to use illegal drugs?
Department of the Navy is committed to providing employees with drug problems assistance in overcoming the problem. Therefore, if an employee has used illegal drugs, he or she will be referred to the Civilian Employee Assistance Program and given the opportunity for counseling and rehabilitation.
26. Will an employee be fired for illegal drug use?
The severity of the disciplinary action taken against an employee found to use illegal drugs will depend on the circumstances of each case and may range from a reprimand to removal. In any case, however, the activity must initiate disciplinary action against any employee found to use illegal drugs except for an employee who voluntarily admits to illegal drug use under the "safe harbor provision. For a second finding of illegal drug use, removal action must be initiated