The Office of Personnel Management says it stands by its security clearance of Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, but a Washington Post story says lawmakers on Capital Hill are calling for a hearing to examine the security clearance process.

When cases of potentially faulty background checks hit the headlines it's easy for everyone to Monday morning (or afternoon) quarterback. But without benefit of a crystal ball it might seem hard to find the balance on background checks. How much is enough? How much is too much?

Last month we wrote in Staffing Talk about a city in California and their banning of employee background checks from the hiring process. The idea is to make it easier for people who have criminal convictions to find work.

This actually makes sense. Often, employers and recruiters will only see the ding on the record. They don’t take the time to look into the actual conviction. More to the point, many background checking companies aren’t diligent about making sure their records are kept up to date or their checks are run accurately. The number of background checks that go awry would scare you. Still—the idea of background checks going away entirely is also pretty scary.

In this recent op-ed for The Trentonian, Weld County, Colorado, and U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck points out that should someone want to get a subsidy for healthcare, under the new Obamacare rules that person is required to enter pretty much all of their personal information.

That information, supposedly kept secure, is still accessible however by federally appointed navigators. The idea of someone being able to access all of that personal data without being cleared via a background check should be a daunting prospect for us all.

The idea of someone being able to access all of that personal data without being cleared via a background check should be a daunting prospect for us all.

It’s easy to get freaked out about the potential for someone nefarious gaining access to federal data, but the threat exists locally as well.

For instance:

A lot of businesses, especially law firms, are switching over to contract management software with companies such as SpringCM, Contract Logix, Zycus, Seletica, etc. The software is easy to use, but few staff employees have the time to transfer everything from the old CMS to the new.

As a result, temps are often put to work for this transition. Without benefit of a background check though, how can you be sure the person can be trusted with all of that sensitive information?

Without benefit of a background check, how can you be sure the person can be trusted with all of that sensitive information?

Imagine a scenario if the background check ban spreads from criminal background checks to include employment background checks as well? How will you make sure the software specialist you send in is even qualified to do the job?

Is it any wonder more and more employers and recruiters are turning to reputation checks and Google for their information on prospective employees and placements? Still, it’s possible to take that too far as well.

So where is the line? How do you make sure you’re placing trustworthy and capable people—even if they might have a few blips in their history—without having to completely invade their privacy? Thoughts?

 

Tags: Background Checks, Hiring process, Industry, Criminal background checks, Aaron Alexis, Navy Yard shooter, Pre-employment screening, Pre-employment background checks