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Editorial: Firm's work for state so far unacceptable

Jan. 12, 2013 @ 12:15 AM

Outsourcing government jobs to private companies often makes sense, but only if the contracted companies perform as expected.

In the case of West Virginia hiring a private company in 2011 to take over government-required background checks, that so far has not been the case, lawmakers were told this week at a legislative interim meeting .

The state requires background checks for anyone wanting to work with children, the elderly or the mentally ill and for people wanting to adopt or be a foster parent to a child who has become a ward of the state. State police had done the checks, but the demand was so great that people requesting the background checks would sometimes have to wait two months or longer. Also, performing the checks sometime kept police from focusing on their law enforcement duties.

So MorphoTrust was hired in August 2011 to take over the background checks, but expectations for reducing the delays apparently have not been met. Mark Drennan, executive director of the West Virginia Behavioral Health Care Providers Association, told lawmakers that problems with MorphoTrust have caused some employers to wait three or four months before receiving results of background checks for potential employees, according to a report in the Charleston Daily Mail. Scott Boileau, executive director of the Alliance for Children, Inc., said parents wanting to adopt or foster children have experienced similar delays.

The officials also cited problems with MorphoTrust's fingerprinting process and allegations of inaccurate billing.

Company officials acknowledged the problems and said they are working on solutions. State government officials should make sure they do. If the company can't turn around this situation soon, the state should end its contract and find someone else to do the work.

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