Montgomery County’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has issued a report on the background check policies of the Department of Recreation and found that significant improvements could be made. The OIG found that though the Department carried out mandatory criminal background checks on employees, it lacked formal policies regarding these records and failed to always remain in compliance with its established policies.
The OIG’s report found that the Recreation Department failed to finalize a formal policy regarding background investigations and has left its policy in draft form since 2004. This lack of a formal policy most notably involves a complete lack of a formal policy regarding the “retention and destruction of criminal history information and related hiring records.”
One of the most significant impacts of this is that the Department has not removed fingerprinted employees from its employment roster, which has a total of 20,146 individuals, many of whom are no longer affiliated with the Department. This means that the state’s Criminal Justice Investigation Services (CJIS) will receive updates for former employees that are no longer with the Department, whereas due to the failure to make certain changes to effectively use the notification system, the Department does not receive notifications regarding many current employees.
The OIG also discovered that the Recreation Department’s compliance with its reporting policies was inconsistent. Namely, the administrative specialist responsible for transmitting information regarding the criminal history of applicants would often fail to inform those in charge of hiring of criminal history. Instead, they would make their own judgments regarding the information and when to elevate it to management. The OIG report also states that prior to the review, the Department’s management was unaware that they were not being informed of all criminal history which could lead to disparate hiring decisions.
The OIG provided some recommendations to improve the Department’s background check policies, including:
The Department of Recreation agreed with these findings and recommendations and stated that it would take “appropriate actions” to improve its processes. Many employers could also benefit from reviewing their background check procedures to ensure that they are still effective and that their current vendor is offering them the best possible service.
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