Report Reveals Iowa Department of Public Safety Issued 5,817 Licenses without Background Checks

Due Diligence

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On August 22, 2019, Iowa Auditor of State Rob Sand released a report on a special investigation of the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) for the period July 1, 2016, through August 15, 2018, that revealed 5,817 licenses were issued during that time without nationwide background checks.

The special investigation was requested by DPS officials as a result of concerns regarding certain applications processed by the former Clerk Specialist, Joe Sheehan Jr., who was placed on leave on August 16, 2018, and terminated from his position on November 6, 2018.

Sand reported the special investigation identified that Sheehan was responsible for ensuring appropriate procedures were performed prior to issuing licenses to individuals who applied for private investigator, private security, and/or bail enforcement licenses.

Appropriate procedures included conducting an Iowa background check and a nationwide background check. However, because sufficient documentation was not maintained, Sand could not determine if Sheehan performed Iowa background checks prior to issuing provisional licenses.

In addition, Sand reported Sheehan was responsible for collecting fees for the licenses but sufficient records were not available to compare collections received to collections recorded for the licenses so it was not possible to determine if all collections received were properly deposited.

The report also includes recommendations to strengthen internal controls of the Iowa DPS, including segregating duties, maintaining supporting documentation, and implementing procedures to properly account for numerical sequence of licenses issued.

In addition, the report includes recommendations to implement policies and procedures to ensure licenses are properly processed. A copy of the report is available for review on the Auditor of State’s web site at https://auditor.iowa.gov/reports/audit-reports/.

A survey of HR professionals released in May 2019 by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – a non-profit trade organization representing the background screening industry – revealed that 96 percent of employers conduct background checks.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – performs professional license verifications for any license issued by a state or federal licensing board or agency. To learn more, visit www.esrcheck.com/Background-Checks/Verifications-References/.

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