Report finds flaws in Amtrak background checks for employees, contractors

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WASHINGTON — Amtrak has addressed some flaws in conducting background checks as part of its hiring process, but some issues remain, according to a report by Amtrak Office of Inspector General.

Most notably, according to the report issued Nov. 1, reviews of applicants’ education and employment histories are insufficient, and the company does not ensure that contractors conduct background checks.

Amtrak outsources its checks on applicants to Accurate Background, Inc. The report notes that Accurate referred more than half of the 1,882 background checks it conducted back to the company to resolve because of limitations in its contract or weaknesses in Amtrak’s oversight of Accurate. “As a result,” the report states, “the company continues to spend unnecessary resources on its background checks process.”

Amtrak is not complying with its policy on contractors’ background checks — which require contractors to certify in writing that they have completed such checks, and that Amtrak conduct independent audits to verify that the checks have been conducted — in part because “it has not identified which departments are responsible for completing each of these steps,” according to the report.

The report did note improvements since it last reviewed hiring policies in 2012, namely that reviews of applicants’ criminal histories have been improved, and that background checks are usually completed before applicants begin work. In fiscal 2017, only seven of 1,293 new employees were at work before the background checks were complete.

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