Ohio: Fixing Criminal-Background Checks

The office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is taking the first step toward replacing its antiquated criminal background-check system, an upgrade that could take two years or longer to complete.

The office is seeking proposals from consultants to help plan the replacement of a system criticized by Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification employees as “cobbled together” and “running on borrowed time.”

The system has incorrectly informed some public and private employers that criminals have clean records, while other convictions aren’t placed in the system for months, an investigation by WBNS-TV (Channel 10) and The Dispatch found.

The attorney general’s office anticipates spending $350,000 to $600,000 on a planning consultant this year.

Other documents estimate that the background-check system replacement will not be completed until mid-2017.

DeWine’s office is not estimating how much it will cost to buy the computer software and hardware to upgrade the current system, but it has acknowledged it will cost millions of dollars.

DeWine told lawmakers this month that he is working “aggressively” to replace unreliable components of a “Model T” information-technology system he inherited when he took office in 2011.

BCI officials, who run more than 1.3 million background checks a year for employers and provide the criminal-history information used by law-enforcement officers statewide, have faulted some court clerks for failing to report convictions.

DeWine acknowledges that the system is missing thousands of convictions, which are matched up with fingerprints once they arrive at BCI.

His office also has demanded improvements from the system’s operating contractor, 3M Cogent of Pasadena, Calif., after concluding that its performance in managing the background-check system was substandard.

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