Airport security badges issued before background checks complete

Recent news reports that several new airport security employees were given their security badges before their background checks were complete raises concerns about whether other employers take short cuts on employment screening protocols that could compromise the safety of the public and/or fellow employees.

The Transportation Security Administration confirmed that some new employees were issued their security badges even though the third and final step in the background check process had not been completed. The delay was due to a backlog from a computer switchover, the TSA reported.

During the screening process, new employees are required to verify their identity. Then, they are matched to a terrorist watch list. If they are on the list, then they are tossed out. Next is a verification of a prospective employee’s criminal record. Finally, there is a security threat assessment conducted by the TSA. That check is pending for many of the new employees, but airports have been given the OK to grant the badges without that step being completed. The TSA has said security access is limited for those with the provisional badges, and there is no security threat in issuing the badges prematurely.

However safe the public is despite this lapse in protocol, the public relations nightmare it has caused is reason enough for all employers to make sure that their pre-employment screening processes are followed to the letter. No shortcuts should be allowed, for safety and financial concerns, as well as possible legal ramifications.


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Kristina Taylor
In 1989, Kristina began her career as a customer service representative at the newly formed American Tenant Screen, Inc. Ten years later, she pioneered tenant background screening on the Internet. As a long-standing member of the National Multifamily Resident Information Council (formerly the National Association of Screening Agencies) Kristina gains insight into the trends of the tenant screening industry to better understand the current and future needs of their clients.

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