It has recently been discovered that a company that does about 65% of all background check investigations conducted by government contractors was responsible for both the checks conducted on Eric Snowden and the man identified as the Navy Yard Shooter. Both of these individuals were provided “secret” clearances by the government.
The background check on the Navy Yard Shooter was run in 2007. At that time, they discovered a 2004 arrest for malicious mischief, however, the Defense Department granted his security clearance in 2008. According to reports, no additional information or investigation was requested by the DoD upon receiving this background check report.
Prior to Eric Snowden and the Navy Yard shooting, the background check company in question had come under investigation by the Office of Personnel Management. This investigation is ongoing, but clearly shows that there has been a breakdown in the information that is being gathered and provided.
When companies, whether small businesses, large corporations or government contractors run background checks on prospective employees, it is hoped that accurate information is returned and it is disseminated by those receiving the information to make a smart decision based on what has been found. The 2012 EEOC ruling about the use of criminal records shows that this situation is clearly within the scope of that ruling which allows the use of criminal records in denying employment if the conviction closely relates to the position an individual is applying for.
While in many cases, records might be too old and are non-reportable, this situation is clearly a case of allowing key information to fall through the cracks, to not be reviewed thoroughly or not reported in a manner that draws attention to a possible problem. Background checks are an important tool, and can identify potential issues based on past history which can in turn cause a company to move in a new direction with their hiring.