Contractors are playing a larger role in both the private and public sectors. The government relies on a huge number of contractors in practically every department, supplementing career civil service employees in everything from technological development and deployment to more mundane and basic tasks. While often viewed as "temporary,” especially in the case of contractors whose work for an agency takes place over weeks or months, these individuals frequently have access to critical systems and sensitive data. For that reason, contractors should receive the same level of consideration as a regular employee, including a thorough background check.
Recent reports of contractor-related trouble on a government level lend this idea credence. The Environmental Protection Agency currently does not know how many contractors it employs—or who among them work with sensitive data that requires careful safeguards. After investigating the EPA, the Office of the Inspector General reported many contractors did not have complete background checks on file, and some did not pass their checks.
The IG also discovered contractors who were double- or over-billing the government for work. Three congressmen have since demanded the EPA produce information on its vetting procedures and contractor numbers.
The EPA is not the only federal agency struggle to vet its contractors. The Federal Acquisition Service, a part of the General Services Administration whose job is to facilitate the government's purchase of goods and services, has come under fire from its own Inspector General. Contractors faced a requirement to complete standard background checks before receiving clearance to handle potentially sensitive data. However, work commenced before the completion of the checks. The IG slammed the discovery for placing the agency at substantial risk for consequences if one of the contractors had acted improperly.
These stories highlight the key reasons why all businesses, regardless of their industry, should make background checks a priority for contractors. Even a simple state-level background check by backgroundchecks.com can throw up red flags that help shield a business from undue risk. For example, a business handling highly sensitive information for customers would likely want to avoid hiring someone previously convicted of identity fraud. The risk of incurring damages by relying on such a contractor would simply be too high, to say nothing of the risk of permanent damage to a company's reputation.
While screening is no guarantee against something such as disingenuous billing practices, it can reduce a company's exposure. Doing due diligence can, in some cases, protect a business from liability if a contractor does create trouble. At backgroundchecks.com, we provide a tailored contractor background check to streamline the process of onboarding dependable, trustworthy individuals. By taking the same care with contractors as you would a fully-fledged employee, you can place your confidence in the team you've built and
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments