E-Verify proposed for contractor employees

About 168,000 federal contractors and subcontractors would need to enroll 3.8 million employees in E-Verify next year under a proposed rule published June 12 in the Federal Register.

The federal contractors will pay the bulk of the 10-year, $550 million cost of implementing E-Verify, including $308 million for start-up and training costs, the notice states.

E-Verify is the Bush administration’s automated system for allowing employers to verify job applicants’ eligibility to work as U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and authorized immigrants. When an employer submits an applicant’s name and personal information for eligibility verification, E-Verify checks the personal information against Social Security Administration and Homeland Security Department databases.

President Bush signed an executive order June 6 that requires federal contractors and subcontractors to participate in E-Verify. The rule published June 12 specifies a change in the Federal Acquisition Regulation to define the conditions under which federal contractors must take part in E-Verify and the likely costs and effect of the rule.

Public comments are due by Aug. 11.

The notice forecasts that in fiscal 2009, 168,324 contractors and subcontractors required to enroll in E-Verify as a result of the rule, requiring an additional 3.8 million employees to be vetted through E-Verify.

Over 10 years, the federal contractors will pay the bulk of the costs of complying with E-Verify: $308 million in startup and training costs, $129 million for verifications, and $101 million for employee losses, the notice states. In addition, contracting employees will pay $3 million and the federal government $8 million for E-verify verification costs.

The rule states that all employees of federal contractors who are newly hired or are directly engaged in work on federal contracts would need to have their work eligibility checked through E-Verify. The rule applies to contracts of more than $3,000 with work performed within the United States.

In the initial contract start-up phase, employees assigned to the contract must be verified within 30 days, but after the initial period, the verifications must occur within three days, the notice said.

“The E-Verify System is expected to help contractors avoid employment of unauthorized aliens and will assist federal agencies to avoid contracting with companies that knowingly hire unauthorized aliens,” the rule states.

About 70,000 employers nationwide are currently participating in E-Verify. The system has been operating for more than a decade, previously as the Basic Pilot program. It has been controversial due to the error rates in the federal databases used to verify eligibility.

About 7 percent of the queries to E-Verify cannot be verified immediately by the Social Security Administration, and about 1 percent cannot be immediately confirmed as work-authorized by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, according to a June 10 report from the Government Accountability Office. Critics say those non-verification rates are the result of errors in the databases and unfairly penalize many legitimate workers.

Furthermore, the E-Verify system cannot protect against workers using stolen identity information and stolen Social Security numbers, according to GAO. Some critics say increased use of E-Verify may result in a rise in identity theft.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Featured

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.