Tag Archives: NCIC

House Bill 2865 Seeks to Provide Fairness and Accuracy in FBI Criminal Background Checks for Employment

A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives – ‘H.R. 2865 – Fairness and Accuracy in Employment Background Checks Act of 2013’ – seeks to provide safeguards with respect to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) criminal background checks prepared for employment purposes. The complete text of H.R. 2865 is available at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr2865/text. Continue reading

NY Times Editorial Focuses On Flawed FBI Background Checks

By Thomas Ahearn, ESR Staff Writer

A recent New York Times editorial – Check It Again – focused on a new bill in the House of Representatives that would require the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to verify and correct criminal data before issuing background checks for employment purposes, thus fixing the problem of many Americans missing a chance to get hired (as if it wasn’t hard enough to find a job these days) because the FBI background checks employers use to screen job applicants contain incomplete or inaccurate information.

A common problem with FBI background checks, according to the NY Times editorial, is that the criminal records included in those FBI background checks fail to include the final disposition of a case, meaning that the records may only show that a job applicant was arrested but not that the charges were dismissed or that there was no conviction.

The editorial also cites a 2009 report from the National Employment Law Project that revealed the government had mistakenly denied credentials to tens of thousands of workers – partly because of flawed background reports – after Congress required new FBI background checks for about 1.5 million people working at the nation’s ports. The editorial concludes that no one – including the nearly 50 million Americans with arrest or conviction records – should be denied a job because the government’s information contained in an FBI employment background check is wrong.

An earlier story on ESR News explained the bill – called the Fairness and Accuracy in Employment Background Checks Act of 2010 (H.R.5300) – would provide safeguards with respect to FBI criminal background checks prepared for employment purposes and require the Attorney General to find out the outcome of arrests from court offices when an employer requests a background check. The attorney general would update the record in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, a computerized index of criminal information available to Federal, state, and local law enforcement 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In addition, to help avoid inaccurate or incomplete employment background checks, the legislation would give job applicants the opportunity to challenge the accuracy and completeness of background check reports done through the FBI records database.

A 2005 report – “The National Crime Information Center: A Review and Evaluation” – sponsored by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) reviewed the FBI’s NCIC to evaluate its effectiveness in maintaining accurate and complete criminal history records. Among the findings of the NAPBS report were:

  • Many states did not report information concerning dispositions, declinations to prosecute, failure to charge after fingerprinting, and expungements.
  • Inconsistency in the reporting requirements and criminal codes in various states impacted the completeness and accuracy of the records.
  • There were significant time lapses between when information was transmitted to the state repository and actual entry into the criminal history records.  

For more information on FBI background checks and the FBI’s NCIC criminal records database – and the reasons why the information contained in that database is sometimes not always entirely accurate – visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.esrcheck.com.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/27/opinion/27thu3.html

http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h5300/text

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fbi/is/ncic.htm  

http://www.napbs.com/files/members/Resources/NCIC_Report.pdf

Bill Would Strengthen Accuracy of Employment Background Checks Using FBI Criminal Database

By Les Rosen, President of ESR & Thomas Ahearn, ESR Staff Writer

Employers that rely on criminal records databases to conduct background checks on potential employees also rely on the accuracy of the information in those databases. Now a federal bill introduced in the House would help to strengthen the accuracy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) criminal records database by requiring the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to verify that crime data contained in the FBI’s database is up to date.

As reported on NextGov.com, the Fairness and Accuracy in Employment Background Checks Act of 2010 (H.R.5300) – which would provide safeguards with respect to the FBI criminal background checks prepared for employment purposes – would require the attorney general to find out from court offices, even those in state and local jurisdictions, the outcome of arrests when an employer requests a background check.

In addition, the attorney general would update that record in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, and would have 10 days to update the record after discovering an arrest was dismissed in court before responding to the employer’s request.

According to NextGov.com, employers consult the FBI’s NCIC database – which is a computerized index of criminal justice information available to Federal, state, and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – to conduct background checks on individuals applying for jobs in law enforcement and security, and for jobs working with vulnerable people such as children and the elderly.

The bill H.R.5300 was introduced in response to “The Attorney General’s Report on Criminal History Background Checks” in 2006 that showed nearly 50 percent of criminal records maintained in the NCIC database failed to note court decisions to dismiss arrests, NextGov.com reported. To help avoid inaccurate or incomplete employment background checks, the legislation would give job applicants the opportunity to challenge the accuracy and completeness of background check reports done through the FBI records database. If criminal records are challenged, the attorney general would have 30 days to investigate, make changes, and report those changes to the applicant and the employer.

Some background check experts agree the Fairness and Accuracy in Employment Background Checks Act of 2010 may help fill the gaps in the FBI’s criminal database.

“Although the NCIC data is the closet thing that exists to a national criminal database, it is not nearly as complete as portrayed in the movies,” stated Les Rosen, President of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a nationwide employment screening company. “Many records of crime do not make it into the system because of the chain of events that must happen in multiple jurisdictions in order for a crime to appear in NCIC.” 

According to Rosen, author of The Safe Hiring Manual: How To Keep Criminals, Terrorists, and Imposters Out of Your Workplace, employers cannot even access the NCIC unless they are specifically authorized to by law. “There is simply no national computer database of all criminal records available to private employers,” says Rosen.

A 2005 report – “The National Crime Information Center: A Review and Evaluation” – sponsored by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), of which Rosen is a past co-chair, reviewed the NCIC to evaluate its effectiveness in maintaining accurate and complete criminal history records. Among the findings of the NAPBS report were:

  • Many states did not report information concerning dispositions, declinations to prosecute, failure to charge after fingerprinting, and expungements.
  • Inconsistency in the reporting requirements and criminal codes in various states impacted the completeness and accuracy of the records.
  • There were significant time lapses between when information was transmitted to the state repository and actual entry into the criminal history records.
  • The format and terminology used by the various states created problems of interpretation for individuals in other states using the information.

For more information on the FBI’s NCIC criminal records database – and the reasons why the information contained in that database is sometimes not always entirely accurate – visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.esrcheck.com.

Sources:

http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20100518_2029.php?oref=topnews

http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h5300/text

http://www.justice.gov/olp/ag_bgchecks_report.pdf

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fbi/is/ncic.htm

http://www.napbs.com/files/members/Resources/NCIC_Report.pdf