Census Bureau Adopts Stricter Rules for Background Screening of Census Workers

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR Staff Writer

Following two recent incidents concerning census workers endangering U.S. citizens – including an attack of a disabled young woman allegedly by a census taker in Indiana and a registered sex offender using an alias to get a job as a census taker in New Jersey – the U.S. Census Bureau is adopting stricter rules for the background screening of census workers for the once-in-a-decade 2010 U.S. Census.

According to a story in the Washington Post, the bureau’s director said that the stricter rules for background screening means applicants for the job of census takers whose name, age, gender and Social Security number do not match background screening records will undergo more inquiries instead of being sent for FBI fingerprint checks. As part of the background screening process, all census workers are fingerprinted on their first day of training and the fingerprint card(s) are submitted to FBI for processing.

Other changes in background screening will include not hiring applicants whose fingerprints are not legible until their identities and backgrounds can be confirmed and swifter intervention when there is “evidence of criminality” by a census worker, according to the Post.

The changes in background screening for census takers come after a New Jersey woman she was visited by a census worker who asked for the names and birth dates of everyone in the family. She later recognized the man’s photograph under a different name than the one he had given her on a sex-offender registry site. The Post reported that Census officials said the man passed a name check during background screening but failed a fingerprint check and was fired after he visited the woman’s home. In Indiana, a census worker who passed the background screening process was charged in the attack of a disabled woman after allegedly returning to her house after making a visit as a census taker.

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

Background screening of the approximately 635,000 census takers includes a name check against the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Name Index and a search of the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database of individuals that have been arrested and fingerprinted to see if it contains a criminal history record file that matches an applicant’s name, date of birth, and social security number.

For more information on background screening, including new legislature that would strengthen the accuracy of background screening using FBI criminal databases and how these databases can sometimes have inaccurate or incomplete information, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.esrcheck.com.

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/26/AR2010052605266.html

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