Changes in Background Screening Industry Led to Need for NAPBS Accreditation Program
A story about origins of NAPBS Accreditaiton by ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn published in NAPBS® JOURNAL in November-December 2011.
The background screening industry in the United States has changed much in the decade since the events of September 11, 2001, placed a newfound emphasis on security in this country. Background screening has gone from a costly and time consuming luxury reserved for selected job candidates, to a business necessity in a technologically advancing global economy in which firms offer services ranging from extensive integrity checks to instant online database searches.
Other factors behind the increased use of background screening included well-publicized incidents of workplace violence, multi-million dollar negligent hiring verdicts, a sharp rise in “diploma mills” offering fake degrees and a growing national awareness of the dangers of allowing unqualified or dangerous workers access to vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly. As a result, the need for background screening industry standards arose.
When the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) was formed in 2003 as a professional trade association for the screening industry, “the idea of an accreditation process was a central driving force in order to demonstrate that background screening was a professional endeavor,” says Lester Rosen, the founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), who served as chairperson of the steering committee that founded the NAPBS.
The road to creating an official NAPBS accreditation program was not easy. “Over the years, it took a lot of hard work from many very dedicated people who put the accreditation program together on their own time, and the results have been nothing short of tremendous,” explains Rosen, who also served at first co-chair of the newly formed NAPBS. “The screening industry owes a debt of gratitude to all of those people who made the accreditation program a reality.”
In April 2009, in conjunction with its Annual Conference, the NAPBS launched the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP) to serve as the industry’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation, and public accountability. NAPBS also formed a governing body for its new accreditation program – the Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) – to ensure firms seeking accreditation would meet a measurable standard of competence.
Governed by a set of 58 clauses, the BSAAP recognizes a screening company’s commitment to excellence, accountability, professional standards and institutional improvement. Beta testing for the BSAAP was completed in May 2010 and the first class of BSCC accredited companies was announced in October of the same year at the Mid-Year Meeting. To become accredited, screening firms must pass a rigorous audit of policies and procedures related to six critical areas:
- Consumer protection;
- Legal compliance;
- Client education;
- Product standards;
- Service standards; and
- General business practices.
The BSCC oversees the application process and ensures all organizations seeking accreditation meet or exceed a measurable standard of competence in these six areas. The accreditation program is open to any U.S.-based background screening company and the process takes approximately six months from submission to completion. Companies are accredited for five years and the program also includes an interim surveillance audit after three years.
“Every profession has to have standards, and NAPBS accreditation represents the standards for our industry,” Rosen concludes. “Without the accreditation program, employers have no real way of differentiating between providers of screening services. With it, employers have a level of assurance that a screening firm meets the stringent accreditation standards. It is just a matter of time before most employers will only want to deal with accredited screening firms.”
Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is accreditated by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®).