Labor supports overhaul of FBI background checks

Bill would bolster accuracy of the system the FBI uses to perform criminal background checks

A consortium of 42 union and labor advocacy groups has endorsed a new bill that would improve the way the FBI does criminal background checks used for pre-employment screening.

The Fairness and Accuracy in Employment Background Checks Act (H.R. 5300), sponsored by Rep. Robert Scott (D-Va.), would bolster the accuracy of the system the FBI uses to perform about nine million criminal background checks for civil purposes, mostly for employment, according to a letter posted June 9 on the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers' (IFPTE) Web site.

The unions said the U.S. attorney general’s office estimates nearly half of the FBI records are incomplete or inaccurate, and that those faults result in lost jobs for many who would otherwise qualify. The system also raises civil rights concerns because of the disproportionate effect that criminal background checks have on people of color, the letter said.

“Moreover, because of the inaccurate FBI records, employers are denied workers of their choice and federal and state agencies that require criminal background checks end up diverting valuable time and resources on worker appeals challenging the accuracy of the FBI’s records,” the letter said.

The bill would require the FBI to track down incomplete or incorrect data before releasing it to authorized employers and government agencies, the letter said. The bill suggests that the FBI adopt the strategy it uses in tracking down incomplete criminal record information for federal gun checks required under the Brady Law. As a result of these investigations, two-thirds of the incomplete state records are updated in three business days, the letter noted.

Groups that signed the letter of support included IFPTE, the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Service Employees International Union.


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Reader comments

Thu, Jun 17, 2010

The article does not say the name of the database, but I believe it is the National Name Check Program. Background checks are performed on all appilcants for U.S. citizenship and civil service/contractor employment. I was assigned to this FBI system for twenty months as a Systems Analyst. During that time, the FBI eliminated a huge backlog of applications and improved the process to complete a background check, while raising the prices charged for thses services. These changes may not seem like big improvements, but the FBI does understand people's careers and citizen status are 'on hold' until the background check is complete.

Thu, Jun 17, 2010

The other problem we have is that we have the employees that are doing the work for a probation agency, with there degree but yet they choose to go outside to get employees that will be trained but those same employees that were not giving the oppurtunity to get the job. How stupid is that? This thing about having them work for the state or county before they can be hired by the Federal Goverment for Probation officers is just ridiculous, cause they come here and they tell them forget everything you learned over there because this is the way the Feds do it. We have to many micro-managers not to mention names Maria Nunez-Hinojos working for our agencies.

Thu, Jun 17, 2010

As much as I hate 'big brother' databases, the Fed has long needed a unified and standardized background check, recognized BY LAW by all agencies. This nonsense about each agency having to do their own because they 'can't trust' a background check from another agency has to stop. Something that wasn't mentioned in the article, but should have been- if some good people are kept out due to missing data, that also means some bad people are being let in.

Thu, Jun 17, 2010

Why do you need a clearance from one agency to another agency, talk about wasting time and resources, not to mention money paying this ex-FBI persons to do back ground checks. Some where down the line the Goverment will start getting right, before we all pass away!

Thu, Jun 17, 2010 RayW

Can not say I have seen examples of the problems stated in the brief blurb, although if it is the same database as homeland security's no-fly list, then I can see it being a problem. However our security manager was surprised to hear that the FBI is a problem, since all of our clearances go through OPM and in industry it went through another organization and denial is not an issue since if there is a question, they do an interview to find out if it is a problem. And of course it may be that they all feed up to the FBI for the data.

Now the *TIME* it takes to do a background check as you change from organization to organization is an issue. We recently had contractors who converted to government due to the current push to kill contractors and it took three months for them to get another clearance, some of them have been here over 20 years. Granted a contractor's clearance is less 'intrusive' than ours, a contractor top secret is the same as a government secret for our purposes when converting over. I held Navy and industrial (for the same stuff I do now) clearances for 20-30 years and when I went to the Air Force civil service from being a contractor for three months at the same desk, it took four months to get cleared again.

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