Alleged Crime by Census Worker Casts Spotlight on Government Background Checks

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR Staff Writer

In the wake of a census worker being accused of assaulting a young disabled woman in southern Indiana, questions have arisen about security issues surrounding the government background checks of the thousands of workers for the once-in-a-decade U.S. Census.

According to a report on the WRTV Indianapolis News website, the mother of a disabled 21-year-old woman in Pekin, IN told police that her daughter was raped and beaten by a 39-year-old male census worker who had come to the family’s home last week asking for census information and then returned early Saturday morning and assaulted her daughter.

The County Sheriff was quoted in the story as saying the accused census worker – who Census officials said started working for the agency two weeks ago – gave the victim a black eye and tried to strangle her, and that there are marks around her neck. Police also said the man left his wallet, which had his driver’s license, on the victim’s bedroom floor.

According to officials, the U.S. Census Bureau performs stringent FBI background checks and “turns away anyone who fails check out OK.” Census workers should never ask to come inside a home, and should show an official identification badge with a Department of Commerce watermark and carry a black census bag with titling and a seal. Anyone suspecting a census worker of inappropriate behavior should call the Bureau.

An employee at the Chicago Regional Census Center said the background screening process for prospective census workers is more rigorous than ever, WRTV reported. An applicant’s name, birth date, and Social Security Number go through an FBI criminal records check and other background checks. This year, fingerprints of prospective census workers are submitted to the FBI and checked against the FBI’s fingerprint database.

According to the ‘Background Check FAQ’ page of the http://www.census.gov/ website, the Census Bureau takes public trust seriously and works to ensure that temporary workers undergo the most thorough and accurate background checks possible. The Census Hiring and Employment Check (CHEC) Branch of the Administrative and Management Systems Division (AMSD) performs background checks for all applicants and employees.

Applicants for temporary Census jobs go through a name check against the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Name Index. The FBI database is searched to see if it contains a criminal history record file that matches an applicant’s name, date of birth, and social security number. This criminal history record file contains records of individuals that have been arrested and fingerprinted. All employees are fingerprinted on their first day of training and the fingerprint card(s) are submitted to FBI for processing.

For more information on FBI database criminal background checks, and how these federal crime databases can sometimes have inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading information, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.esrcheck.com.

Sources:

http://www.theindychannel.com/news/23526493/detail.html

http://www.census.gov/hrd/www/jobs/background.html