HHS establishes structure to include oral fluid specimens in Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Rockville, Md. – The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), has established scientific and technical guidelines for the inclusion of oral fluid specimens in the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs.

The Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Oral Fluid (OFMG) will allow federal executive branch agencies to collect and test an oral fluid specimen as part of their drug testing programs. In addition, these Guidelines may also be used by some agencies, such as the Department of Transportation and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), as part of their regulated drug testing programs. The OFMG establish standards and technical requirements for oral fluid collection devices, initial oral fluid drug test specimens and methods, confirmatory oral fluid drug test specimen materials and methods, processes for review by a Medical Review Officer (MRO), and requirements for federal agency actions.

The OFMG provide flexibility for federal agency workplace drug testing programs to address testing needs and to revise the requirement to collect only a urine specimen, which has existed since the Guidelines were first published in 1988. The scientific basis for the use of oral fluid as an alternative specimen for drug testing has now been broadly established, and the advances in the use of oral fluid in detecting drugs have made it possible for this alternative specimen to be used in federal programs with the same level of accuracy as urine specimens. For example, oral fluid collection devices and procedures that protect against biohazards and tampering, maintain the stability of specimen materials, and provide sufficient oral fluid for testing have been developed. Additionally, specimen volume is also much lower, saving time in collection and transport cost. Developments in analytical technologies have provided efficient and cost-effective methods with the analytical sensitivity and accuracy required for testing oral fluid specimens. Therefore, the OFMG provide the same scientific and forensic supportability of drug test results as the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Urine. Federal agencies, MROs, and regulated industries using the OFMG will continue to adhere to all other federal standards established for workplace drug testing programs.

SAMHSA’s Division of Workplace Programs (DWP), part of the agency’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, provides oversight for the Federal Drug-free Workplace Program. DWP also oversees HHS-certified laboratories that perform drug testing for federal agencies and federally regulated industries.

Reporters seeking further information should contact SAMHSA’s press team at 240-276-2130 (press 4) or media@samhsa.hhs.gov.

For more information, contact the SAMHSA Press Office at 240-276-2130.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Last Updated: 10/29/2019