Tag Archives: GAO

GAO Releases Report on Criminal History Records


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) – the “congressional watchdog” investigating how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars – has released a report on the use of criminal background checks titled ‘Criminal History Records: Additional Actions Could Enhance the Completeness of Records Used For Employment-Related Background Checks (GAO-15-162).’ The complete report from the GAO is available at http://www.esrcheck.com/file/GAO-Criminal-History-Records-Report.pdf. Continue reading

GAO Calls for Review of Background Checks Contractor

Government Background Checks

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has called for a review of a contract worth nearly $200 million awarded to a contractor of background checks and recommended the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) consider stripping the contract from a unit of the firm due to fraud allegations against the parent company, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal available online at http://online.wsj.com/articles/gao-recommends-government-strip-background-check-work-from-contractor-1413842400. Continue reading

GAO Report Reveals Huge Jump in Tax-Related Identity Theft Incidents Identified by IRS

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report titled ‘TAXES AND IDENTITY THEFT – Status of IRS Initiatives to Help Victimized Taxpayers’ that reveals a huge jump in the number of tax-related identity theft incidents identified by Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Primarily refund or employment fraud attempts, the IRS identified 248,357 tax-related identity theft incidents in 2010, nearly five times the amount of such incidents reported in 2008. Continue reading

Bill Introduced in Congress Would Make Use of E-Verify Permanent and Mandatory for U.S. Employers

Legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would make the use of E-Verify – a free, web-based, government run electronic employment eligibility verification system – “permanent and mandatory” for all employers in the United States and also provide for penalties for businesses employing illegal workers not authorized to be employed in the United States. Continue reading

Government Accountability Office Report Finds Sex Offenders Employed at K-12 Schools

By Lester Rosen, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) President & Thomas Ahearn, ESR News Editor

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report to the Chairman, Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives that revealed high rates of employees in all sorts of positions at both public and private schools – including teachers, volunteers, aides, support staff, and contractors – who had records of inappropriate sexual conduct and convictions for sex-related crimes.

The GAO report dated December 2010 – ‘K-12 EDUCATION – Selected Cases of Public and Private Schools That Hired or Retained Individuals with Histories of Sexual Misconduct’ – examined 15 cases that showed that individuals with histories of sexual misconduct were hired or retained by public and private schools as teachers, support staff, volunteers, and contractors. At least 11 of these 15 cases involved sex offenders who previously targeted children, and at least 6 cases involved offenders who used their new positions as school employees or volunteers to abuse more children.

The GAO report revealed that the following factors contributed to hiring or retention of sex offenders:

  • School officials allowed teachers who had engaged in sexual misconduct toward students to resign rather than face disciplinary action, often providing subsequent employers with positive references;
  • Schools did not perform pre-employment criminal history checks;
  • Even if schools did perform pre-employment criminal history checks, they may have been inadequate in that they were not national, fingerprint-based, or recurring; and
  • Schools failed to inquire into troubling information regarding criminal histories on employment applications.

Some examples of cases from around the United States that the GAO examined for the report include:

  • Ohio: A teacher forced to resign because of inappropriate conduct with female students received a letter of recommendation from the school superintendent calling him an “outstanding teacher.” After being subsequently hired at a neighboring district, he was convicted for sexual battery against a sixth grade girl.
  • Louisiana: A teacher and registered sex offender whose Texas teaching certificate had been revoked was hired by several Louisiana schools without receiving a criminal history check. A warrant is currently out for his arrest on charges of engaging in sexual conversations with a student at one of these schools.
  • Arizona: A school rushing to fill a position did not conduct a criminal history check before hiring a teacher who had been convicted for sexually abusing a minor, even though he disclosed on his application that he had committed a dangerous crime against a child. He was later convicted for having sexual contact with a young female student.
  • California: A sex offender was convicted for molesting a minor in 2000 and the school where he worked was aware of his conviction but did not fire him. After the GAO referred the case to the California Attorney General, officials placed the sex offender, who has since resigned, on administrative leave.

The GAO report also found no federal laws regulating the employment of sex offenders in public or private schools and varying laws at the state level. While some states required a national, fingerprint-based criminal history checks for school employment, others states did not. State laws also varied as to whether past convictions would result in termination from school employment, revocation of a teaching license, or refusal to hire.

GAO performed the study after a 2004 Department of Education report estimated that millions of students are subjected to sexual misconduct by a school employee at some time between kindergarten and the twelfth grade (K-12). GAO was asked to:

  • Examine the circumstances surrounding cases where K-12 schools hired or retained individuals with histories of sexual misconduct and determine the factors contributing to such employment actions and
  • Provide an overview of selected federal and state laws related to the employment of convicted sex offenders in K-12 schools.

To identify case studies, the GAO compared recent data in employment databases from 19 states and the District of Columbia to the National Sex Offender Registry and also searched public records to identify cases where sexual misconduct by school employees resulted in a criminal conviction. GAO ultimately selected 15 cases from 11 states for further investigation.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a leading background check provider accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) performs sexual offender searches as well as criminal record searches around the United States supplemented by a national multi-jurisdictional search. Although no one search is perfect, ESR recommends a series of overlapping tools that must also include checking professional licenses and verifying past employment, especially looking for unexplained gaps in employment where an offender may try to hide past negative information.

For more information on background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.


GAO Report Notes Improvements in Accuracy of E-Verify Employment Eligibility Verification System

By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor

According to a new report from the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) bureau has taken steps to improve the accuracy and efficiency of the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system used to check if workers are legally eligible to work in the country.

The report – GAO-11-146 Employment Verification (December 2010) – found that USCIS had boosted the E-Verify system’s accuracy by expanding the number of databases consulted to determine the legal status of a new hire and by establishing new quality control procedures that included making employers double-check information for employees found unauthorized to work in the U.S. and allowing E-Verify to automatically correct clerical errors.

More improvements to the E-Verify system mean that more eligible workers are being approved immediately. E-Verify immediately confirmed nearly 97.5 percent of 8.2 million new hires entered into the system during fiscal year 2009, while another 0.3 percent successfully contested their “tentative nonconfirmation” status. In addition, GAO found that the USCIS had taken more precautions to protect the personal information of employees.

Despite these improvements, GAO cautioned that “E-Verify remains vulnerable to identity theft and employer fraud.” Nevertheless, E-Verify – a free, web-based system that compares employee information on the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 against records in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases – is currently being used by at least 243,000 employers that ran more than 16 million queries in fiscal 2010, according to USCIS.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a leading background check provider to employers accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – is also a Designated E-Verify Employer Agent that can help employers virtually eliminate I-9 form errors, improve the accuracy of their reporting, protect jobs for authorized workers, and help maintain a legal workforce. For more information on ESR’s E-Verify Service, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/formi9.php.

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen and is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) . To learn more about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.