Oversight of All-Agency Contract for Background Check Services

MTA/OIG #2015-04

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and its constituent agencies hire individuals for a wide range of agency positions. To ensure that new employees have the necessary training, qualifications, and experience to perform their assigned tasks, a number of which are safety-sensitive, MTA requires candidates to undergo a background check to verify their credentials.

In 2013, MTA contracted with an outside vendor to conduct these checks for a three-year period, with a budget cap of $3.17 million. Under this contract, the vendor verifies applicants’ reported educational achievements, employment experience, criminal and civil court history and personal qualifications on behalf of MTA Headquarters and each MTA operating agency. MTA projected that the vendor would perform checks on more than 19,000 job applicants and approximately 3,000 consultants over the length of the contract.

After receiving various complaints, the Office of the MTA Inspector General began a review of the utilization of this contract by MTA agencies. Although we found problems with the cost, timeliness, and thoroughness of the vendor’s performance, we also found that these issues were either caused by or persisted because of inadequate oversight by MTA. The audit included six recommendations for improvement that were accepted and implemented by MTA.