In an economic downturn, there are some employers and many state and local governmental concerns that look to cut costs by avoiding background checks on public officials and political candidates. Invariably, it seems, such avoidance of background checks comes back to haunt them. Ugly stuff about an employee's political history is later discovered and this proves embarrassing and in certain cases costly. There are often civil litigation and liability issues to be considered.
All too often, only then, do state and local governments and public service agencies decide to move forward with background checks as part of their employment screening program or political campaigns. When the proverbial horse is out of the proverbial barn.
Washington D.C. Mayor, Vincent C. Gray, has ordered that expanded background checks be conducted on political hires. The order was initiated a subsequent to revelations about the legal troubles of some hies that prove embarrassing to the administration. Originally, as the article in D.C. Wire notes, and according to the press release, Cabinet-level appointments were scrubbed with "background checks into credit history, criminal offenses, driving and traffic records, bankruptcies, property ownership, liens and judgments. It also covered education, legal, and business affiliations."
The news release described the expanded background searches as "unprecedented." The funding for the expanded background checks came from private contributions.
In far too many incidents, governments and public service agencies do not learn from prior mistakes. They skirt over the embarrassment, pay off the liability claims and move on in the same dysfunctional form. Mayor Gray, it appears, has taken proactive measures to be sure his political hires meet the standards expected of public servants. Good for him.