Blog

 
     

IRS Failed to Run Background Checks on Contractors

By Michael Klazema on 8/20/2014

Not even the government is immune to background check snafus.

According to a recent report from the Associated Press, a federal investigator found some pretty major background check oversights in recent Internal Revenue Service practices. Based on the investigator's report, the IRS has been neglecting to run any sort of background checks on numerous private contractors. However, even without background checks, these contract workers were given access to confidential taxpayer data, including names, addresses, and Social Security numbers. In other words, the IRS may have put more than a million American taxpayers at risk.


How could this have possibly happened? It appears that poor planning, shoddy organization, and simple lapses of common sense were all to blame for the oversights. In one situation, the IRS handed over a computer hard drive to a company that it had contracted for printing services. The disk contained sensitive information for more than 1.4 million taxpayers, but the IRS didn't see fit to require background checks for any of the people working on the project.

That wasn't the only potential leak of private taxpayer information, either. On the contrary, perhaps the more alarming incident uncovered involved a courier who was contracted "to transport sensitive information." The courier in question was a known felon who has 21 years of prison time on his record. His charges were primarily for arson, not identity theft, but that fact likely won't provide much peace of mind for taxpayers who might have been put in harms way by the failure of the IRS to do its due diligence in assessing contract workers.

The IRS even has a policy in place that requires background checks for any and all contractors that have been given access to sensitive taxpayer information. And while the IRS didn't fail to run background checks on all of its contractors, that fact hardly minimizes the number of potential data leaks.

The IRS reportedly uses about 10,000 different contract firms to help process tax forms and payments. Even a failure to vet one percent of contractors could represent countless opportunities for less-than-trustworthy people to steal taxpayer information and use it for fraudulent purposes. And even when the IRS did run the necessary background checks on contractors, it sometimes failed to require non-disclosure agreements.

The report was completed by J. Russell George, a Treasury Inspector General who reports on tax administration topics. George lambasted the IRS for not running appropriate background checks on contractors, and for "exposing taxpayers to increased risk of fraud and identity theft."

Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/irs-failed-background-check-contractors-government-investigator-article-1.1904477


Tag Cloud
Categories
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 20 Repeat background checks are becoming more common, with companies in India leading the charge. What does this trend look like, and how can employers embrace it now to stay ahead of the curve?
  • June 19

    Every federal job involves a background check of some kind. These background checks and how they are evaluated vary based on job, department, and security clearance level.


  • June 18

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.


  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.