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Government Agencies

By Industry Blog 39 In (Government Drug Test) 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed into law Executive Order 12564, Drug-Free Workplace. This executive order (EO) established that all federal government agencies are explicitly drug-free workplaces, and federal employees are forbidden to use illegal drugs.

This was followed by the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, which states that federal contractors and those receiving federal grants must maintain a drug-free workplace to gain employment or funding.

However, these rules give broad allowance to individual agencies to set their own policies regarding drug testing, resulting in a patchwork of different policies across the federal workforce.

These programs are overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Do All Government Jobs Drug Test?

No. All federal employees are forbidden to use illicit substances on or off the clock, according to EO 12564, but the choice to drug-test for a given job lies with its respective agency. However, since every government agency coordinates with SAMHSA, most agencies tend to have relatively similar policies for drug testing employees.

For example, most applicants to federal jobs can reasonably expect a pre-employment test. Likewise, employees of most agencies will likely be tested after a workplace incident. In addition, some will undergo random testing. When and how these tests are administered is typically decided by the agency in question, but there are key exceptions.

What are Testing Designated Positions?

All federal employees under the Omnibus Transportation Employee Act of 1991 are subject to a pre-employment, post-incident, and random government drug test. Enforced primarily by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT), this act encompasses employees working in aviation, mass transit, railroads, commercial highway transport, pipelines, and maritime transport.

These jobs are considered testing designated positions (TDPs). SAMHSA issued guidance in 2010 that strongly encourages agencies other than the DoT to enact strict testing policies for TDPs. For example, positions that require an employee to carry a firearm as a regular part of their job must be included in an agency’s testing plan unless explicitly exempted.

This guidance also specifies TDPs that agencies are strongly encouraged to include in testing plans, like law enforcement, presidential appointees requiring senate approval, and drug rehab program employees.

What Drugs are Employees Tested For in a Government Drug Test? What Drugs are Employees Tested For in a Government Drug Test?

SAMHSA guidelines recommend testing for the following classes of drugs:

  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Marijuana
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine

However, leeway is granted to agencies that wish to test for additional illicit substances of interest.

Amphetamines and Methamphetamines:

Amphetamines and methamphetamines are stimulants that have a long duration of action and are often abused by people working long or irregular hours. Studies have shown that methamphetamine and amphetamine are associated with aggressive behaviors and cardiac toxicity. In addition, these drugs can cause a dangerous mental state called stimulant psychosis at high doses.


Cocaine is a short-acting stimulant that impairs judgment and is associated with recklessness and grandiose delusions. Cocaine use can aggravate existing cardiovascular symptoms and cause acute cardiac pathology associated with an increased risk of heart attacks.


In recent years, several state governments have legalized recreational or medical cannabis use. However, it remains illegal at the federal level. In addition, marijuana use has been shown to slow reaction times and impair spatial awareness, rendering its use a hazard for some positions. Note: Urine analysis tests for THC metabolites, which can be present in pee samples for up to a month. Therefore, urine cup drug test results indicate long-term use and cannot determine current intoxication.  This substance can like be expected to be detected on a government drug test.

Opiates – Opium and Codeine Derivatives:

Opiates are pain-killer medications with a high potential for misuse. Opiate use slows the reaction time of the user and dulls their senses. In addition, repeated use quickly builds tolerance. Without proper medical supervision, this can lead to misuse of more potent substances like fentanyl, a leading cause of opiate overdose-related deaths. Opiate overdoses are particularly dangerous due to their suppressive effect on breathing, an effect that is dramatically potentiated by alcohol.

Phencyclidine (PCP):

Phencyclidine is a highly dangerous deliriant hallucinogen that causes vivid hallucinations which users cannot distinguish from reality. In addition, PCP can cause aggressive behavior, and PCP use has been implicated in violent criminal acts, including murder and dismemberment.


Benzodiazepines are a class of depressants that are prescribed to manage acute symptoms of anxiety disorders. These drugs act quickly, reducing anxiety symptoms, inhibitions, and reaction time. Benzodiazepines have a high addictive potential, and tolerance develops rapidly. Furthermore, benzodiazepine misuse can be life-threatening when combined with alcohol.


Barbiturates are a class of sedative depressants that were used extensively in the past for anxiety and sleep disorders due to their hypnotic effect. In recent years, they’ve been replaced primarily by benzodiazepines. However, they are still used in medicine as anesthetics, anti-convulsants, and to treat certain kinds of extreme headaches. Barbiturates have a high potential for abuse and addiction, and overdoses can be lethal.

MDMA (Ecstasy):

MDMA (3,4-Methylendioxymethamphetamine) is a psychoactive drug that is informally called ecstasy, molly, and E. MDMA increases feelings of empathy, alters sensory perception, and raises energy levels. However, users under the influence of MDMA have impaired motor coordination and discernment and are at risk for rapid heart rate, heightened body temperature, and potentially dangerous levels of dehydration.

Drug Testing for Government Agencies 1 Where Can I Buy a Government Drug Test Kit?

12 Panel Now provides a wide range of drug test kits, including urine drug test kits and government drug test pee cups. Our 12 Panel Drug Test Cup (PCP) covers all the substances required by SAMHSA guidelines and more!


12 Panel Now offers affordable bulk pricing options for urine drug test cups and other drug test kits. This helps agencies keep a safe, drug-free workplace without straining budgets.

Time Efficient

With 12 Panel Now drug test kits, urine cup drug test results are available onsite within minutes. No laboratory is required for results analysis.


The CLIA-waived drug test cups offered by 12 Panel Now can be performed easily with or without supervision from clinicians or laboratory technicians, according to agency policies.

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