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The Fair Chance to Compete Act

On December 20, 2019, the president signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019 (“Fair Chance Act” or “the Act”).  The Fair Chance Act prohibits Federal agencies and Federal contractors acting on their behalf from requesting that an applicant for Federal employment disclose criminal history record information before the agency makes a conditional offer of employment to that applicant. The Act is intended to ensure every applicant receives a fair chance at employment, allowing the merits of an individual to include their qualifications, skills be the primary criteria for hiring. The Fair Chance Act was designed help qualified workers with arrests or conviction records compete fairly for employment in federal agencies.

On October 2, 2023, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) finalized its regulations for the Fair Chance Act. The regulations assist agencies like the Department of Transportation, in carrying out the provisions of the Act found in chapter 92 of title 5, United States Code. The regulations also provide a complaint process for applicants who believe they have been subjected to a violation of the Fair Chance Act and hold accountable Federal employees found to have committed such a violation.


Notably, the Act’s prohibition regarding criminal history inquiries before conditional offers of employment does not apply to applicants being appointed to positions that require a determination of eligibility for access to classified information; assignment to or retention in sensitive national security duties or positions; or is a Federal law enforcement officer or dual-status military technician position. 


The Department of Transportation seeks to ensure that every applicant is treated fairly through the hiring process.  As required by regulation, we have established procedures under which an applicant may submit a complaint, or any other information, if they believe they have been subjected to a violation of the Fair Chance Act. 
Applicants who wish to submit a written complaint to the Department of Transportation must do so within 30 days of the alleged non-compliance with the Fair Chance Act by mailing

Submissions should include the following information:

  1. The Job Opportunity Announcement number you applied to;
  2. Name and contact information of the DOT employee who contacted you (if known); 
  3. The date you were contacted; and
  4. Copies of any documents or other evidence related to the complaint.

For more information regarding the Fair Chance to Compete Act, please review our fact sheet here.