Amtrak OIG finds inefficiencies in employee background check processes

Published by the Amtrak Office of the Inspector General on 2018-11-06.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

Amtrak OIG finds inefficiencies in employee background check processes

For Immediate Release
November 6, 2018

WASHINGTON –Amtrak has improved its background check process for new hires, but still
faces challenges with oversight and implementation, according to an Amtrak Office of Inspector
General audit released Monday.

The OIG found improvements in the company’s background check process since the OIG last
reviewed this issue in a 2012 report, which cited numerous management control weaknesses.
For example, of the 1,293 employees hired in fiscal year 2017, only seven did not have
completed background checks before they started work, and those seven background checks
were completed within several days of the employees’ start dates. By comparison, the OIG’s
2012 report found significant numbers of employees reported to work before they were cleared.

Monday’s report noted that Amtrak has strengthened its process for reviewing criminal
histories of prospective employees, but remains hindered by limitations in its contract with the
vendor conducting background checks. In fiscal year 2017, the vendor referred 54 percent of its
background checks back to Amtrak for completion because of discrepancies in employment or
education histories. The high return rate was because of counterproductive contract provisions
that restricted the extent to which the vendor could check these histories and Amtrak’s limited
oversight over the vendor’s education and employment history checks.

The report also found that Amtrak had challenges complying with its own policies for
companies who supply them with contractor employees. Under Amtrak’s policy, supplying
companies must certify that they completed background checks for employees contracted to
work for Amtrak. As of September 2018, Amtrak had not implemented this control because it
had not determined which department should be responsible for informing contractors of this
requirement. Another policy required Amtrak to develop a list of approved background check
vendors for contractors to use, but it had not been implemented for the same reason.

Additionally, a policy required Amtrak to audit contractors’ compliance with the background
check requirements. Amtrak had not conducted these audits due to a lack of company
resources, according to the report. Because Amtrak has not implemented controls to ensure

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contractors complete required checks on their employees, the company lacks assurances its
contractors do not pose a risk to company operations.

To address the findings in the report, the OIG recommended that Amtrak strengthen oversight
of its background check vendor to ensure it follows company guidance for resolving questions
about the education and employment histories of prospective employees. An Amtrak official
said they plan to revise the contract provisions to address the limitations identified in the
current contract regarding education and employment reviews, according to the report.

Additionally, the OIG recommended that Amtrak clarify which of its departments is
responsible for implementation and oversight of Amtrak’s background check policy and
processes related to contractors. Specifically, the responsible departments would ensure
contractors certify they have completed background checks on their employees who work for
Amtrak and would audit contractors’ compliance with the company’s background check
requirements. Finally, the OIG recommended that the company clarify its policy requiring it to
develop a list of approved vendors that contractors can use in conducting background checks.

Company officials concurred with the report’s findings and agreed to implement all of the OIG

To download the full report, go to https://go.usa.gov/xPpJj