From the Charleston, S.C. Post and Courier — Originally published Monday, April 20

News comes that the federal agency in charge of doing background checks for many sensitive government jobs has been accepting falsified reports and lacks a regular audit for security clearance reports. It goes without saying that is unacceptable.

... An "agency problem" exists when people entrusted with a task use their power to benefit themselves instead of their employer. A common way businesses and governments try to reduce agency risk is, of course, by conducting background checks.

That brings us full circle to the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which conducts 90 percent of the government's background checks. According to The Washington Post, questionnaires sent to a sample of persons supposedly interviewed during background checks for government employment showed some investigators had lied about having interviewed people who knew applicants for jobs at the departments of Treasury, Defense and other agencies handling sensitive information.

Of six investigators facing federal prosecution for making false statements in their reports, three were employees of OPM and three were hired from private investigation firms. ...

Even the most assiduous and honest investigators won't catch all potential security risks. But OPM can reduce the falsification of background checks by making an example of investigators who have been caught lying, changing the way investigators are paid and requiring regular audits. It must do a better job.