Background Checks

Many of our clients do business with a local or federal government agency that requires they perform thorough background checks of their employees and contractors before they are allowed to perform work on behalf of the agency. This has become such a routine “cost of doing business” that I imagine many folks don’t give it much pause.

Naturally we all assume that what is good for the goose is good for the gander and that the same government agencies are as conscientious about screening their own staff in order to protect the constituents they serve.

Imagine the uproar last week from these same firms when the Justice Department announced it had joined a whistle-blowers lawsuit against a leading company that conducts security background checks for nearly one-half of all potential federal employees. The suit accuses the firm of taking short cuts in nearly 40% of checks performed.

Clearly that’s a lot of assumed risk that has now slipped through the cracks into a multitude of agencies. Can you imagine the backlash if you suddenly learned that 40% of some other process essential to your business operations has been “side-stepped?”

Background screening is an especially sensitive issue for all firms who use it to evaluate candidates and monitor ongoing employees. The relationship most form with their screening provider is one of ultimate trust to act on their behalf to protect their employees and customers from allowing potential risks to permeate their place of business.  When that trust is broken, the relationship disintegrates.

Trustworthy providers should offer you a system of checks and balances – online and offline reporting tools, for example – to allow you to validate that all of the proper and promised steps are taken on your behalf. Simultaneously it is your duty to check these systems – read these reports – and not let yourself get into a situation where blind trust leaves you vulnerable.