Politicians all over the country are trying to decide how to manage the new and innovative technologies of Transport Network Companies, e.g. Uber, Lyft. The current push is to force these companies to use the FBI fingerprint option as their background screening source, in place of an Accredited Background Screening Company.
The theory sounds great, but the logistics make it impossible to get an accurate record on an applicant. We make the mistake of thinking an ‘FBI Check’ will find everything and is a perfect cure for background screening. This is completely wrong.
Let me put this into a possible scenario.
John Doe is arrested for a DUI or rape offense. Mr. Doe is fingerprinted for his offense. A copy of the fingerprints is sent to the State Police repository by the arresting agency. The State Police then sends the fingerprints on to the FBI for their compiled records. A year or more in court, John Doe is finally convicted and is incarcerated. John Doe is then fingerprinted (again), and the County Clerk sends the conviction information and new fingerprints to the State Police (again). The State Police then sends the fingerprints (again) on to the FBI to match them against the arrest record.
Where this gets problematic is: Mr. Doe is convicted, however he is placed on probation in lieu of a prison sentence. Fingerprints are never taken and his record never shows the conviction. Or in many cases the charges are dismissed or reduced. This happens in roughly 50% of cases. Now Mr. Doe has an arrest record that keeps him from getting a job, racial discrimination occurs here. The other problem is ‘catch and release’: Some DUIs, thefts and assaults are never taken to the police station for prints. John Doe is released at the scene and no fingerprint record is ever made. There are 17,985 law enforcement agencies, 3,600 counties, 50 states, and 2 provinces. The logistics to get all this to one source, the FBI, is impossible to get accurate.
The United States Government Accountability Office published a study in February 2015 that found the following states had none or incomplete records in their fingerprint databases; 20 states had 75% complete records, 13 states had only 50% complete records, 9 states had 25% complete, and 8 states were under 25% complete in arrest and conviction record data from their county jurisdictions. (USGAO report on Criminal History Records Page 18, Feb 2015.) Attorney General Eric Holder made a statement in July of 2016 about the inaccuracies and problems associated with FBI Checks. Fingerprinting is not an accurate method to perform background checks and it can als take 20-40 days, on average, to get a completed report returned to the employer.
Private Accredited background screening companies send research agents into the courthouses to pull the arrest and conviction files from the actual case files for accuracy. Due to technology and vendor networks established, this can be done for very minimal costs (half the cost of fingerprints) and be completed in just a few days. This process also allows for maximum possible accuracies.
I recently heard a local politician in Tampa Public Transportation Commission say the federal government is the “Gold Standard” and they do fingerprints so his committee should require fingerprints. I know the The federal government also still uses floppy drives for storage, I wonder if he thinks floppy drives are the Gold Standard for data storage? The fact, is the federal government is now getting away from fingerprinting and is using a background check company for most of its background checks. That statement showed me he never did any research.
I call on our politicians to get away from the old method and outdated technology of fingerprinting and use innovation and today’s technology to get accurate results and keep our citizens truly safe. Get away from fingerprinting transportation network drivers, taxis, bus drivers, and Department of Transportation drivers. This will keep us safer, but more importantly; my wife safer and my daughter safer from inaccurate fingerprint records of criminal drivers.
A VETERAN EMPLOYMENT SCREENING AND RISK MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONAL, BRIAN D. CHAPMAN IS THE CEO AT MBI WORLDWIDE, A GLOBAL EMPLOYMENT SCREENING COMPANY. CHAPMAN RECEIVED A DEGREE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE FROM JOHN. A. LOGAN COLLEGE. MR CHAPMAN IS A FOUNDING MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BACKGROUND SCREENERS AND IS CHAIR AND BOARD MEMBER ON THE BACKGROUND SCREENER’S CREDENTIALING COUNCIL OF NAPBS. HE IS AN AUTHOR AND EXPERT WITNESS IN THE EMPLOYMENT BACKGROUND CHECK CIRCUIT. CHAPMAN IS A FREQUENT KEYNOTE SPEAKER ON ISSUES OF EEOC COMPLIANCE, ADVERSE ACTION AND EMPLOYMENT SCREENING BEST PRACTICES.