An inspector general report has raised concerns about the Census Bureau’s screening of both applicants for initial suitability for employment and of current employees for continued suitability.
In examining practices used in staffing up with temporary enumerators for the 2020 census, the IG focused on background investigations that involved only fingerprint checks. In a sample of 68 cases in which such checks resulted in the FBI reporting that the applicant had a criminal arrest, charge or conviction, the IG found that in five cases the agency had not followed procedures required to make an adjudication—and four of those were hired.
Based on that sample, the IG projected that some 6,800 persons were hired into such positions without proper procedures being followed.
The IG also noted that persons hired for other than such temporary jobs are to undergo both a pre-employment case review and suitability determination and a post-employment adjudication. It pointed to a report it issued in April 2020 raising what it called “significant concerns” about a backlog of adjudications of information turned up in background investigations, some of them dating as far back as 2014. It said that some 5,800 cases at least that old remained unadjudicated as of year-end 2021.
“Delays in processing post-employment cases for individuals with major suitability issues increases the risk that applicants may move forward in the hiring process without the required vetting and who may not be suitable for federal employment,” it said.
Problems include short-staffing in the responsible offices and incomplete or inaccurate data in the agency’s hiring and employment check system, it said.