Federal workers screened for drugs may have their saliva, sweat, or hair tested, the Washington Post says. Officials have relied on urine samples since 1986, when President Ronald Reagan declared federal workplace drug-free. The George W. Bush Administration wants to give agencies the option of using alternative tests to catch drug use that urine tests may miss because of masking agents or because the drugs were used weeks earlier.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) plans to propose revisions to federal mandatory drug-testing guidelines in the Federal Register soon. The proposal was first reported by the Associated Press.
Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said her union has opposed sweat tests because studies have shown them unreliable. A spokesman for the American Federation of Government Employees said, “We probably would not have any vehement objections to what they are doing, so long as it’s limited to the more accurate and less intrusive forms of testing,” he said.
Federal drug-testing efforts focus on 400,000 employees who have security clearances, carry firearms, deal with public safety or national security, or are presidential appointees. In fiscal 2000, the most recent year for which data are available, 106,493 workers at 118 agencies were tested, at a cost of $6.1 million. About one-half of 1 percent test positive.