SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATION SAFETY ACT OF 1999
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
MAY 18, 2000
Serial No. 89
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Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR S. SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
BOB BARR, Georgia
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
JAMES E. ROGAN, California
LINDSEY O. GRAHAM, South Carolina
MARY BONO, California
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
JOE SCARBOROUGH, Florida
DAVID VITTER, Louisiana
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
STEVEN R. ROTHMAN, New Jersey
TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
THOMAS E. MOONEY, SR., General Counsel-Chief of Staff
JULIAN EPSTEIN, Minority Chief Counsel and Staff Director
Subcommittee on Crime
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBILL McCOLLUM, Florida, Chairman
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
BOB BARR, Georgia
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR S. SMITH, Texas
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
STEVEN R. ROTHMAN, New Jersey
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
GLENN R. SCHMITT, Chief Counsel
DANIEL J. BRYANT, Chief Counsel
RICK FILKINS, Counsel
CARL THORSEN, Counsel
BOBBY VASSAR, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
May 18, 2000
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Chabot, Hon. Steve, a Representative in Congress from the State of Ohio, and presiding chairman, Subcommittee on Crime
Casey, Ben, president, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, Dallas, TX
Granger, Hon. Kay, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas
Loesch, David R., assistant director, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Philippus, Al, chief of police, San Antonio, TX
Sessions, Hon. Pete, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas
Thomas, Julie, executive director, Volunteer Center of Dallas County, Dallas, TX
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCLETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Casey, Ben, president, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, Dallas, TX: Prepared statement
Casey, William, deputy superintendant, Boston Police Department: Letter to Hon Bill McCollum
Granger, Hon. Kay, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas: Prepared statement
Loesch, David R., assistant director, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation: Prepared statement
Philippus, Al, chief of police, San Antonio, TX: Prepared statement
Sessions, Hon. Pete, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas: Prepared statement
Thomas, Julie, executive director, Volunteer Center of Dallas County, Dallas, TX: Prepared statement
Material submitted for the record
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCVOLUNTEER ORGANIZATION SAFETY ACT
THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2000
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Crime,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:10 p.m., in Room 2226, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Bill McCollum [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Bill McCollum, Steve Chabot, George W. Gekas and Robert C. Scott.
Staff present: Glenn R. Schmitt, Chief Counsel; Rick Filkins, Counsel; Veronica L. Eligan, Staff Assistant; and Bobby Vassar, Minority Counsel.
OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN CHABOT
Mr. MCCOLLUM. The Subcommittee on Crime will come to order.
The subcommittee today holds a hearing on H.R. 3410, the Volunteer Organization Safety Act of 1999 introduced by Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas.
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[The bill, H.R. 3410, follows:]
H. R. 3410
To eliminate the requirement that fingerprints be supplied for background checks on volunteers.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
NOVEMBER 16, 1999
Mr. SESSIONS introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To eliminate the requirement that fingerprints be supplied for background checks on volunteers.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ''Volunteer Organization Safety Act of 1999''.
SEC. 2. VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATION SAFETY.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the United States Government shall not require, as a condition of completing a State and Federal criminal history check, otherwise authorized by law, through the national criminal history background check system into the background of a volunteer worker for purposes of determining whether such volunteer worker is fit for the work, that the requesting entity supply the fingerprints of that volunteer worker.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. This bill would amend the National Child Protection Act which Congress passed in 1993 and which authorized the FBI to conduct background checks on persons who work with children, the elderly, and disabled at the request of organizations for which these persons work or volunteer.
As it was enacted, the law requires States to enact their own statutes requiring certain organizations to conduct checks on potential employees or volunteers. Under those laws, States would require persons working with children, the elderly, and the disabled, whether in a for-profit business or in a volunteer agency, to submit fingerprints to a designated State law enforcement agency, such as the State police. The agency would then submit them to the FBI which would run the prints through its fingerprint system to determine whether the person had ever been convicted of a crime. The FBI would then provide the results to the referring State agency which would determine under State law whether the person checked was qualified to hold the position he or she was seeking. The State agency would then inform the company or organization for which the person was applying for work or as a volunteer as to whether the person had been passed or denied by the system.
Unfortunately, only a few States have taken advantage of this law and passed a State statute requiring companies or organizations who work with children, the elderly, and disabled to conduct background checks on their employees or volunteers. In an effort to encourage greater use of the FBI fingerprint system, Congress amended the law in 1998 to allow organizations to contact a designated State agency and request that a background check be performed on its employees and volunteers. States may authorize a State agency to receive these requests through executive order rather than through a State statute.
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H.R. 3410 provides that, notwithstanding any other provision of the law, the Federal Government may not require volunteer organizations who request background checks to be completed on potential volunteer workers to submit fingerprints to the government in order to complete the background check. The intent of the bill, as I understand it, is to allow background checks to be completed using the FBI's National Crime Information Center system. The NCIC is an information system that provides local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies with information on 17 different files of records, such as wanted persons, stolen cars, stolen firearms and other stolen property, as well as arrest records by checking names and other personal identifiers through the system.
I want to say at the outset that I have concerns about the gentleman's proposal, as he well knows. The value of the NCIC system is dependent on correct information being submitted to it. For example, if a volunteer with a criminal past gives a fictitious name, even one that is similar to their legal name, or gives a fictitious date of birth or other identifier, their criminal record will not be found in the system, and the organization for which that person is seeking to volunteer would be misled into believing that they can trust the potential volunteer. The only way to be certain that the criminal records of a person being checked are found is through a fingerprint search.
Having said that, I also want to say that I share the gentleman's concern that these checks often take too long. Part of this is due to a backlog of fingerprints waiting for analysis at the FBI. Some of the reason for this is that some States take too long to submit them to the FBI or to provide the results to the requesting organization. I do note that more and more fingerprints are being submitted to the FBI in an electronic format, and this drastically reduces the time it takes to conduct the checks, but I am interested in exploring with the FBI witness here today the ways in which the process can be expedited.
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I also know that the gentleman has a concern over the cost of these checks to the groups requesting them. Though I don't believe taxpayers should have to pay for the cost of these checks, especially when they are performed on behalf of for-profit companies, I do not want the cost of these checks to deter good persons from volunteering their time to work with our children, the elderly and the disabled.
I know that everyone here today has the best interests of these vulnerable groups of citizens in mind. I hope that by reasoning together we can improve on the process because, after all, no background check system is any good if it is not used. And no background check system is any good if it can be defeated easily. Our goal should be to find a system that works, that produces a quick response and is the least costly as is possible.
I again want to thank you for being here today; and I will turn to my colleague, Mr. Scott, for any opening comments he may have.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am pleased to join you in convening the hearing on the Volunteer Organization Safety Act of 1999. Volunteers are a vital part of the network of public and private organizations serving this Nation's citizens and communities, particularly those serving children and other vulnerable populations.
Unfortunately, painful experiences have taught us that, while the overwhelming majority of volunteers are the dedicated and caring individuals they appear to be, a very small percentage of volunteers are child molesters and others who have shown a propensity to harm rather than serve the organization's clientele. It only takes one such individual to wipe out all of the goodwill and good reputation it has taken an organization years to build up, and that is why, Mr. Chairman, the Congress has taken a number of steps over the past few years to assist agencies in ensuring that they limit as much as possible the risks of such an incident.
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In 1993, Congress passed the National Child Protection Act which authorized the FBI to conduct background checks on persons who work with children, and the 1994 crime bill expanded the scope of the law to include the elderly and persons with disabilities. To encourage greater use of the law, Congress amended the Act in 1998 to make it easier for States to comply by allowing them to administratively enact procedures authorizing background checks for a qualified entity.
In July, 1999, following a year-long study, the National Task Force on Interstate Identification Index Name Check Efficacy reported its findings and conclusions to the Attorney General. The task force concluded that FBI fingerprint searches are highly preferable to name checks as a means for criminal history screening. Modern automated fingerprint identification systems are extremely accurate, whereas name checks are found to have missed many names, causing false positives and false negatives on numerous occasions.
The study suggested that if the 6.9 million civil applicant background checks processed by the FBI in 1997 had been processed by name checks alone, approximately 346,000 false positives and 70,000 false negatives would have resulted. Also, the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact among the States, which governs national criminal history record checks for noncriminal justice purposes, seeks to protect volunteers as well as those who seek to serve from harm, requires all requests for criminal history searches be accompanied by fingerprints.
So we know, Mr. Chairman, that there is a great preference to fingerprint. And that is great in theory, but we will hear from two distinguished colleagues from Texas who will show that there are problems in implementing this theory in Texas. They have great concern for children and other vulnerable populations and would wish, as we all do, that this system can work as best as possible. So I am delighted to hear testimony from our two colleagues from Texas and look forward to our other witnesses to make sure that this process that we have can work as best as possible with the technology we have. Thank you.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Scott.
I want to welcome our first panel, our two friends and colleagues.
Congressman Pete Sessions represents the Fifth District of Texas, having first been elected in 1996. After graduating from Southwestern University, Mr. Sessions joined Southwestern Bell Telephone Company where he worked for 16 years, ending his career as district manager for marketing in Dallas. Just prior to taking office, he served as vice president of public policy at the National Center for Policy Analysis, which is a Dallas-based conservative public policy research institute.
Kay Granger, the Congresswoman, we are glad to have you with us, has represented the 12th District of Texas since 1996. Prior to coming to Congress, she served as mayor of the great city of Fort Worth from 1991 to 1995. Before beginning her public service, Congresswoman Granger was a schoolteacher and private business owner. Congresswoman Granger received her bachelors degree from Texas Wesleyan University.
We welcome both of you here today. Your written testimony will be submitted into the record, unless there is objection, in its entirety. I hear none, and it is.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Pete, you are the author of the bill. Even though I know you defer to ladies, you are the principal author so I am going to recognize you first.
Mr. SESSIONS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I would choose at this time to defer to the gentlewoman from Fort Worth. Her schedule is tight, as all of ours are.
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But I first want to just give a comment and say that, from the very beginning, the national leader along with me has been Kay Granger, and Kay Granger cares about her children in Fort Worth. She cares about all the children in this country, but it is a problem for her. It is not just one that resides in Texas, and I welcome the gentlewoman for being with me today.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Please proceed, Kay.
STATEMENT OF HON. KAY GRANGER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Ms. GRANGER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
When my good friend from Texas, Pete Sessions, asked me to testify on this very important legislation, I agreed without hesitation. Mr. Sessions understands the need for this legislation due to his involvement with the Dallas YMCA, and I understand the need for this legislation because of my years serving on the city council and as mayor of Fort Worth, as you said.
My testimony here today is not as a representative from the 12th District of Texas, but instead I speak as a former mayor who worked and depended on nonprofit services and also as a board member of over 30 different organizations serving young people in my city. I want you to understand how volunteers make a difference in our community and how this legislation will make a difference.
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Let me give you a few examples of volunteerism and what it has meant to Fort Worth.
To combat the high crime rate, Fort Worth residents dreamed of safer streets and safer neighborhoods. Cavile Place was a public housing area so dangerous that its citizens were afraid to live there, and police offices were even afraid to be assigned to patrol there.
The situation looked hopeless until one brave volunteer decided to take a stand and make a difference. Her name is Callie Pollard. She was a resident of Cavile Place, and she decided that her community was too important to let the criminals win. So she worked with the police and developed a new approach to fighting crime in Cavile Place.
With Callie Pollard and other volunteers participating in Citizens on Patrol, we were able to reduce crime in our city by nearly 50 percent in 4 years, making it safe for the children in public housing and also the senior citizens.
Citizens on patrol has trained more than 5,000 citizens, primarily seniors, to patrol their neighborhoods in direct communication with police officers. And in high-crime areas like Cavile Place, we were able to reduce crime by as much as 70 percent. Volunteers were the unsung heroes behind the success of our crime reduction.
We didn't just try to make the community safe, though. We tried to make it a compassionate place for children where no child is lost and every child is loved. We called the program ''Our City, Our Children'', and it helped make a dream a reality. It encouraged businesses to volunteer money, resources and particularly time to our children. Utilizing the resources of the volunteer organizations already operating in the city, we used that program and increased that by more than 700,000 hours.
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While new programs and initiatives served us well, we also relied upon the ongoing support of community service organizations such as the YMCA and the YWCA.
The YMCA of metropolitan Fort Worth is, like the city itself, a story of success and service. There are over 108,000 people in Fort Worth who are served each year by the YMCA. 1,500 disabled senior citizens are given transportation, 9,000 school-age children are given child care thanks to the Y. Each year, some 500 at-risk youth enter a program called Truce, which teaches them how to stay out of gangs and out of trouble. And, of course, this, too, is thanks to the Y, who, without hundreds and hundreds of employees working as volunteers, especially the 5,000 yearly volunteers, would not exist.
Like the YMCA, the YWCA of Fort Worth has been a presence there in the community since 1907. The Y uses hundreds of volunteers a year to serve 1,000 people in need. Their programs range from child care for the homeless and working poor to supportive living centers. I am especially proud and work very closely with a program called AIMthat is Achievement, Ideals and Motivationthat helps prevent teen pregnancy among the very high-risk adolescent girls ages 10 to 18.
The AIM program uses volunteers in the community to help these young women, holding them by the hand to focus on education, encouraging them to delay pregnancy until after graduation. In this particular segment of the population it would be predicted that 70 percent of those girls targeted would become teenage mothers themselves. The Y's program has worked with over 500 girls and seen only two pregnancies.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That is the Fort Worth legacy. It is volunteerism. And I share those stories with you because they are an example of how important volunteers are to the community and how much we rely on those volunteers. Unfortunately, without safeguards to prevent criminals, sexual predators and others who would abuse their role as volunteers from interfacing with children, volunteer organizations such as the YMCA and the YWCA wouldn't be able to maintain the trust of the community they now enjoy and thrive on.
We live in a society where there are those who seek to corrupt the sanctity of volunteerism and abuse their role as volunteers in order to have intimate and sometimes criminal contact with children.
To maintain the respect and trust we have in volunteers, background checks are a necessity. State background checks were a great beginning. Regretfully, criminals know how to use and abuse the system, and they are well aware that their criminal records have difficulty crossing State lines. I don't think that State lines should represent liberation to these criminals. Instead, the Federal Government should provide the States and especially those volunteer organizations with the ability to easily search for the criminal records of potential volunteers in a timely and cost-effective way.
H.R. 4424, the Volunteer Organization Safety Act of 2000, provides these safeguards. Where organizations such as the Ys would have only been able to run background checks on criminal records in Texas, this legislation would allow the Ys to look at the Interstate Identification Index, which is a clearinghouse of criminal records across the Nation.
Our children are our future. Our volunteers set them on the right path. We may never know entirely the difference that volunteers make. Their impact cannot be measured in dollars and cents and hours volunteered or programs begun. It can be measured in lives changed, commitment begun and hope given. Let us make sure that no one with a criminal record destroys the innocent lives for our youth using us as volunteers.
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I hope you will support this bipartisan, common-sense legislation that ensures the sanctity of volunteerism while protecting our children.
Again, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the opportunity to testify before you; and I look forward to working with you.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you for being here today and thank you for your testimony.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Granger follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. KAY GRANGER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
When my good friend from Texas, Pete Sessions, asked me to testify on this very important legislation, I agreed without hesitation. Mr. Sessions understands the need for this legislation due to his involvement in the Dallas YMCA, and I understand the need for this legislation because of my years serving on the City Council and as Mayor of Fort Worth.
This legislation stands to help not only the non-profit and volunteer organizations in our communities, but also our children, our seniors, the homeless, and everyone else benefitting from these service organizations. H.R. 4424, the Volunteer Organization Safety Act of 2000, provides service organizations who rely on volunteers an affordable and timely way of ensuring that their volunteers are well-intentioned and without criminal records. Simply, this legislation prevents child molesters, child predators, and other deviants who prey on the innocent and vulnerable members of our society from using the role as a volunteer to perpetuate their crimes. It's common sense legislation that provides a common sense solution to a very real problem.
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Of course, a finger print based, nationwide background check is the most desirable and effective way of screening for criminal records. Presently that system is cost prohibitive and time insensitive. When that system is running more efficiently and is available to these service organizations, we should transition to that system. In the meantime, we should not leave the safety of our children and others who benefit from these services at risk. We should allow access to criminal records through a name-based, nationwide background check maintained and provided by the FBI.
My testimony here today is not as the Representative from the 12th District of Texas, but instead I speak as a former Mayor who worked and depended on these non-profit services and as a board member in over 30 different organizations. I want you to understand how volunteers make a difference in our communities and how this legislation will make a difference.
Let me give you some examples of what volunteerism has meant to Fort Worth.
To combat the high crime rate, Fort Worth residents dreamed of safer streets. By working together in programs like ''Citizens on Patrol,'' we were able to cut crime in half.
One of my favorite examples of the Fort Worth's fight against crime is the story of Cavile Place. In 1991, Cavile Place was a public housing area so dangerous that its own citizens were afraid to live there. Moreover, police officers were afraid to be assigned to patrol the area.
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The situation looked hopeless until one brave volunteer decided to take a stand and make a difference. Callie Pollard decided that her community was too important to let the criminals win, so she worked with the police and developed a new approach to fighting crime in Cavile Place. With Callie Pollard and other volunteers participating in Citizens on Patrol, we were able to reduce crime in our city by nearly 50% over five years. And in high-crime areas like Cavile Place, we were able to reduce crime by as much as 70%. Volunteers were some of the unsung heroes behind the success of our reduction in crime.
We didn't just try to make our community safe, though. We also tried to make it a compassionate place where no child is lost and every child is loved. And the ''Our City, Our Children'' program helped make this dream a reality. This program encouraged businesses to volunteer money, resources, and time to our children while also utilizing the resources of the volunteer based service organizations in the community. Operating on the principle that time spent with children is time well spent, we encouraged mentoring and volunteering that truly touched the hearts and changed the lives of our children.
Background checks would ensure that those who sought to improve the lives of our children were doing just that. Background checks prevent ill-intentioned individuals from abusing the trust and respect that we create for the programs.
While new programs and initiatives served us well, we also relied upon the ongoing support of community service organizations such as the YMCA and YWCA.
This year, the Metropolitan Fort Worth YMCA will celebrate 110 years of service to the community. It is very much a story of success and service. Every day for over a century the doors of the Fort Worth YMCA have been open to every neighborhood of the community, every family of every neighborhood, and every member of every family. But without hundreds of employees and especially the 5000 yearly volunteers, this organization would be unable to provide the vital assistance needed in the community.
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The YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth is, like the city itself, a story of success and service. Today, there are over 108,000 people in Fort Worth who are served each year by the YMCA. Each year, 1500 disabled senior citizens are given transportation thanks to the Y. Each year, 9000 school-age children are given child care thanks to the Y. And each year, some 500 at-risk youth enter a program called Truce, which teaches them how to stay out of gangs and out of trouble. And of course, this too, is thanks to the Y.
Like the YMCA, the YWCA of Fort Worth and Tarrant County has been a presence in the community since 1907. The YW uses several hundred volunteers a year to serve well over a thousand people in need. Their programs range from child care for the homeless and working poor to supportive living centers. I am especially proud of a program called AIM - Achievement, Ideals, and Motivation - that helps prevent teen pregnancy among high risk adolescent girls ages 10 through 18 years old.
The AIM Program uses volunteers from the community to help young women focus on the importance of education and encourage the delay of pregnancy until after graduation. The program is so effective in helping these girls get started on a successful path. It is estimated that 70% of the girls targeted by this program would become unwed mothers if left unattended to. The YW's program has worked with over 500 young women and has seen only two pregnancies. That is success. Without the YW and the volunteers, these children would not as easily find the path to success.
Through the years, the YMCA and YWCA have certainly grown in size and scope, but they have never lost their sense of mission and ministry. The Fort Worth Ys are just two of the many organizations in Fort Worth that demonstrate the impact that volunteerism has on the community.
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This is the Fort Worth legacycitizens making an effort to make a difference. Volunteerism is very much a part of that legacy. The Fort Worth comeback was based not on rocket science, but on common sense and common solutions. Our strategy aimed to restore values as simple as they are timelessfaith, family, and freedom.
I share these stories of Fort Worth with you as an example of how important volunteers are. Our community relies heavily on them and there is a great sense of trust instilled in them.
Unfortunately, without safeguards to prevent criminals, sexual predators, and others who would abuse their role as a volunteer from interfacing with children, volunteer organizations such as the YWCA and the YMCA would not be able to maintain the trust of the community that they now enjoy and thrive off of. We live in a society where there are those who seek to corrupt the sanctity of volunteerism. They abuse their role as a volunteer in order to have intimate and sometimes criminal contact with children.
To maintain the respect and trust we have in volunteers, background checks are a necessity. State background checks were a great beginning. Regretfully, criminals know how to use and abuse the system, and they are well aware that their criminal records have difficulty crossing state lines. I don't think that state lines should represent liberation to these criminals. Instead, the federal government should provide the states and especially these volunteer organizations with the ability to easily search for the criminal records of potential volunteers in a timely and cost effective way.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC H.R. 4424, the Volunteer Organization Safety Act of 2000, provides these safeguards. Where organizations such as the Ys would have only been able to run a background checks on criminal records in Texas, this legislation would allow the Ys to look at the FBI's Interstate Identification Index, which is a clearinghouse of criminal records across the nation.
Our children are our future. Our volunteers set them on the right path. We may never know entirely the difference that volunteers make. Their impact cannot be measured in dollars and cents, in hours volunteered, or programs begun. It can be measured in lives changed, commitment begun, and hope given. Let's make sure that no one with a criminal record destroys the innocent lives of our youth. I hope you'll support this bipartisan, common sense legislation that ensures the sanctity of volunteerism while protecting our children.
Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today. I look forward to working with you, your committee, and Mr. Sessions to help pass this very important legislation.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Sessions.
STATEMENT OF HON. PETE SESSIONS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. SESSIONS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think, as you can see by the testimony and intensity that was offered by my colleague, Ms. Granger, it is a testament to not only what she believes in but also her closeness to the community that we are here representing today.
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Mr. Chairman, my interest in this legislation stems back to a long history of involvement by not only myself but my family in volunteer organizations. I am a second generation Eagle Scout and have guided, as Scoutmaster, 13 young men in their pursuit of obtaining their Eagle Scout rank. I have also been involved in numerous organizations that operate in my community at home in Dallas. In short, I believe in the valuable service that these organizations provide our communities and care intensely about their success.
In 1992 and 1993, I served as the ''Sustaining Chairman'' for the East Dallas YMCA. During my tenure as fund-raising chairman, we experienced a very sad and difficult time when a number of youths were molested at our YMCA. This incident, which was widely covered in the press and dragged out through the court process, proved to be painful to the whole community. While the perpetrator in this case was a YMCA employee, it was a reminder to all of us how vulnerable we are to people who intend to cause harm. This incident has haunted me and motivated me to seek options so that volunteer organizations can more effectively interview and screen the transient part of the workforce that is made up of even volunteers.
The purpose of my legislation is simple. The Volunteer Organization Safety Act would allow volunteer organizations across America to conduct name-based national criminal background checks by using names and other identifiers. Currently in Texas, volunteer organizations are only able to conduct Statewide name-based, checks which are conducted through the Texas department of public safety. Name-based checks conducted through the national database, which is what this legislation would provide, would allow volunteer organizations the ability to add another level of security at the national level. These Nationwide checks could, today, begin catching people that would be missed by a State-only check. National, name-based checks would, under my legislation, be only an interim option until automated fingerprint checks are available across this country.
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation has, I know, worked diligently on the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. In fact, my father, Judge William S. Sessions, was involved in leading this effort during his tenure as FBI Director for President Reagan and President Bush.
Unfortunately, volunteer organizations in Texas are unable to completely enjoy the benefits of this system. In fact, our requests of the Department of Justice have not produced even an estimated date on which automated fingerprint checks would be available to volunteer groups.
The debate is not really about name-based versus fingerprint checks. The argument, put simply, is about allowing name-based checks or forcing volunteer organizations to settle for nothing at all. Volunteer organizations are left with a Statewide check only, leaving no measure of security at the national level. This is unacceptable.
My legislation recognizes that when automated fingerprint checks are available at a reasonable cost and turn around time, we should take full advantage of the benefits of a fingerprint check. In the meantime, a common-sense approach would be to provide interim relief for volunteer groups while the FBI finishes its work to implement a national fingerprint- based system accessible by youth service organizations.
I have worked with local, State and Federal law enforcement for over 2 years to assure that their input was received. This legislation has been endorsed and is supported by law enforcement officials at many local levels. Texas Attorney General John Cornyn is one of the most prominent supporters of my bill. In a letter he wrote to me he stated, and I quote, this innovative name-based background check would give volunteer operations a more effective method of protecting the safety of their participants, end of quote.
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As you can see, there is support all the way from our highest ranking law enforcer to the local police department, also represented here by San Antonio Police Chief Al Philippus.
I would also like to add this, that the bill has received support from both the Texas Department of Public Safety as well as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The need for nationwide name-based checks has been recognized by many local and State organizations involved in the welfare of their communities.
I would also like to ask unanimous consent that I provide a copy of a Dallas Morning News editorial from back in September of 1997, which stated, among other things, and I am going to just state one paragraph here rather than what would be contained in the entire editorial.
The editor concluded, and I quote, Mr. Sessions told the Dallas Morning News that he hopes the matter can be resolved through negotiations with the FBI rather than legislation. He began those negotiations with the FBI in August of 1997 and sent Director Louis Freeh a follow-up letter last week. Mr. Sessions is absolutely correct when he says that since this involves people willing to give their consent to a criminal background check, volunteer centers should be granted access to national records. Let us hope the FBI will be persuaded to see it that way, too. That is the end of the quote.
[The information referred to is included in the appendix.]
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Volunteer organizations of all kinds and at all levels support this bill. These groups recognize the very real need for a national name-based criminal background check. For example, the National Boys and Girls Clubs of America has always maintained a strict fingerprint-only position. However, they have endorsed this legislation because, and without comprising their stated position, they recognize that the present need for safety cannot be met through future solutions. They understand that, while we must aggressively pursue a workable automated fingerprint system, volunteer organizations must have the option to secure their environments to the best of their ability today.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to provide testimony today. I will tell you that the intense interest that this has created not only in Texas but also in other States around the Nation will increase. The community of users is interested to see what happens today. There are representatives not only from Texas here today, but the user community around the country is watching what this subcommittee does and with great anticipation and eventual markup and an opportunity for this interim solution.
I thank you for the time and the opportunity to appear before you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Sessions follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. PETE SESSIONS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to testify about my legislation, HR 4424, the Volunteer Organization Safety Act.
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My interest in this legislation stems back to a long history of involvement by my family and I in volunteer organizations. I am a second generation Eagle Scout and have guided, as Scoutmaster, 13 young men in their pursuit of obtaining their Eagle Scout rank. I have also been involved in numerous organizations that operate in my community at home in Dallas. In short, I believe in the valuable service that these organizations provide our communities and care intensely about their success.
In 1992 and 1993, I served as the ''Sustaining Chairman'' for the East Dallas YMCA. During my tenure as fundraising chair, we experienced a very sad and difficult time when a number of youths were molested at our YMCA. This incident, which was widely covered in the press, and dragged out through the court process, proved to be painful to the whole community. While the perpetrator in this case was a YMCA employee, it was a reminder to all of us how vulnerable we are to people who intend harm. This incident has haunted me and motivated me to seek options so that volunteer organizations can most effectively interview and screen the transient part of their workforce made up of volunteers.
The purpose of my legislation is simple. The Volunteer Organization Safety Act would allow volunteer organizations across America to conduct name-based national criminal background checks by using names and other identifiers. Currently in Texas, volunteer organizations are only able to conduct statewide, name-based checks, which are conducted through the Texas Department of Safety. Name-based checks conducted through the national database, which is what this legislation would provide, would allow volunteer organizations the ability to add another level of security at the national level. These nationwide checks could, today, begin catching people that would be missed by a state-only check. National, name-based checks would, under my legislation, be only an interim option until automated fingerprint checks are available for volunteer organizations.
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has, I know, worked diligently on the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). In fact, my father, Judge William Sessions, was involved in leading this effort during his tenure as FBI Director for President Reagan and President Bush. Unfortunately, volunteer organizations in Texas are unable to enjoy the benefits of this system. In fact, our requests of the Department of Justice have not produced even an estimated date on when automated fingerprint checks would be available for volunteer groups.
The debate is not really about name-based versus fingerprint checks. The argument, put simply, is about allowing name-based checks or forcing volunteer organizations to settle for nothing at all. Volunteer organizations are left with a statewide check only, leaving no measure of security at the national level. This is simply unacceptable.
My legislation recognizes that when automated fingerprint checks are available, at a reasonable cost and turnaround time, we should take full advantage of the benefits of a fingerprint check. In the meantime, providing interim relief for volunteer groups while the FBI works to implement a national fingerprint-based system accessible by youth service organizations is a common-sense approach.
I have worked with local, state and federal law enforcement for over two years to assure that their input was received. This legislation has been endorsed and is supported by law enforcement officials at all levels. Texas Attorney General, John Cornyn, is one of the bill's most prominent supporters. In a letter to me, he wrote that, ''This innovation [name-based background checks] would give volunteer organizations a more effective method of protecting the safety of their participants.'' (Attachment A). As you can see, there is support all the way from our state's highest ranking law-enforcer to the local police department, represented here today by San Antonio Police Chief Al Philippus.
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The need for nationwide, name-based checks has been recognized by many local and state organizations involved in the welfare of our communities. As seen from this Dallas Morning News editorial from September 1997, which I would like to submit for the record, my efforts have been met with much support from the local community. The editor writes,
Given the explosion of heart-grabbing stories of child sexual abuse, and the propensity of pedophiles to travel from state to state, county agencies with responsibility for children are clamoring for the Volunteer Center to expand its criminal background checks beyond Texas records to searches into national criminal records databases.
The editor concludes by saying,
Mr. Sessions told The Dallas Morning News that he hopes the matter can be resolved through negotiations with the FBI rather than legislation. He began those negotiations with the FBI in August [of 1997] and sent Director Louis Freeh a follow-up letter last week.
Mr. Sessions is absolutely right when he said that since this involves people willing to give their consent to a criminal background check, volunteer centers should be granted access to national records. Let us hope the FBI will be persuaded to see it that way, too.
Volunteer organizations of all kinds and at all levels support this bill. These groups recognize the very real need for a national name-based criminal background check. For example, the National Boys and Girls Clubs of America has always maintained a strict ''fingerprint-only'' position. However, they have endorsed this legislation because, without compromising their stated position, they recognize that the present need for safety cannot be met through ''future'' solutions. They understand that, while we must aggressively pursue a workable automated fingerprint system, volunteer organizations must have the option to secure their environments, to the best of their ability, today.
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Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to testify before your committee. I am pleased to present my legislation, which has received such wide-ranging support, as an interim solution until fingerprint checks are available. It is my intent to continue my efforts so that every member of Congress has the opportunity to support this bill. We cannot accept the solution that the law currently provides us with, which is a provision for statewide checks only. I respectfully request your careful consideration of this bill, which is about children and the communities we live in. We must allow volunteer organizations to ensure the most secure and safe environment for the people they serve so well.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you very much, Mr. Sessions and Ms. Granger. I will yield myselfand I won't take 5 minutes with you, but I would like to ask one or two real quick questions.
The Justice Department cites a GAO report that recommended the Secretary of Defense should require all national agency checks for enlistment in the military be based on full fingerprint search, not upon name identification. He cites the City of New York as having ended its check based on names because of a problem that they had, a very severe loss of life situation, because the check with the names was not sufficient, and he also cites California with respect to forbidding employment applicants during a pendency of a fingerprint check.
In essence, the Justice Department testimony that youperhaps you have reviewed it, but it hasn't come yet, but the written testimony would infer pretty clearly that there is a problem with the name-based check, that their position is that this is not reliable, especially since there are not enough trained people to even catch the ones who come through the system by name, let alone really weeding out the bad guys without fingerprints. Do you have a response to that?
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Mr. SESSIONS. Yes, I do, Mr. Chairman, and I don't know whether Kay would wish to comment on this.
With great respect to the people who disagree with me, I think they tend to want a perfect system, a 100 percent system, and they are willing to wait years until we have got that. I believe that this is common senseand you will hear the term I believe used later called a bridge, an opportunity to take us where we are today and to get better. We are not after something that is one hundred percent. The FBI in their infinite wisdom believes that there is something better, and I happen to agree with them, but before something else is better or perfect we have got to have something that is better than what we have today.
And for a group of people in Washington, DC, to sit there and tell me or a group of volunteers that they care more about the accuracy of their data than they do about the potential harm that is due to volunteers, I disagree with them, politely but vehemently disagree with them, and this is something that the people who are engaged in trying to protect our children need every single reasonable opportunity to spot and to deter these types of examples.
And pedophilesand I am not here to testify about this, there will be other people that do this, pedophiles know how to beat the system today. And if we have this as an option and something that is available, even though it is not perfect, and granted it is not, it beats where we are today; and I believe, for the sake of a national epidemic which we are engaged in, that doing something better if not perfect is superior to what we have today.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Ms. Granger, do you wish to comment on that?
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Ms. GRANGER. I have nothing to add except to say I agree with that, particularly because of the situation we are in right now. And, as Mr. Sessions said, there is just not a permanent solution but it is a solution we can have immediately until the perfect solution is there.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I don't have any questions. I would want to thank our two colleagues for laying out this issue. Obviously they are, as we are, interested in maximum safety for our children and other vulnerable populations within a sensible process. And obviously when you have a summer program and you have to wait 8 weeks to get someone cleared, that is not a functional process. So we have other witnesses who will respond to the situation, and I want to thank our colleagues for being with us today.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Chabot.
Mr. CHABOT. I also want to thank both our colleagues from Texas for proposing this legislation. Did you all want to take questions or you want us to save it for the next panel?
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SESSIONS. I would respond, perhaps, for both of us, we are not engaged in the day-to-day delivery or even in the intricacies of the problems. We are both volunteers. Ms. Granger and I are people who rely on these systems, and we haveand mostly me and I know that and so does Kayhave delved into this issue on a delicate basis, but we believe that our presence here today as advocates for this is what it is about, but there will be people for the gentleman from Cincinnati who can answer very detailed questions. I would say if you could ask them.
Mr. CHABOT. I will hold them. I had some questions about how long it takes and if you are turned down, different things like that.
Mr. SESSIONS. There are people here to deal with that.
Mr. CHABOT. I would like to personally thank both of you for your leadership in this very important area.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Gekas.
Mr. GEKAS. I would ordinarily pose some questions, but I want to make sure that in the future, if I appear before a committee headed by either of these two, that they won't cross-examine me. So I will waive the chance to question.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Chairman, if you will recall, as you have been before the Rules Committee numerous times, I deal with you not only respectfully but will ensure that from now on I don't even ask a question.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Sessions, Ms. Granger. We appreciate your being here.
Our second panel consists of a single witness, David Loesch, the Assistant Director of the FBI and the person who heads its Criminal Justice Information Services Division. Mr. Loesch began his service with the FBI as a special-agent in June of 1972. He served in field offices in Georgia and Washington, DC, and has served in several positions at FBI headquarters. Mr. Loesch received his undergraduate degree from Canisius College and his master's degree in criminal justice from George Washington University.
We welcome you, Mr. Loesch. Your written testimony will be entered in its entirety into the record, and we hope you will take about 5 minutes or so to summarize it.
STATEMENT OF DAVID R. LOESCH, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, CRIMINAL JUSTICE INFORMATION SERVICES DIVISION, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
Mr. LOESCH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, I thank you for the opportunity to be here, and I applaud everybody in here for the concern that they have for the safety of our children. Myself, I am also a lifetime volunteer like Congressman Sessions. I understand a lot of these concerns.
The FBI's, of course, position is stilland you already have laid out a number of what the concerns are that I had in my opening statement, of course. Many of the studies, in fact, all of the studies that have been done point to the fact that we get many, many false positives which are hits against the III (Interstate Identification Index). We get about a 40 percent hit rate on those alone. And somebody has to look at those things and determine if it is the same person. So you have many people being labeled as possible criminals when they would not be and people looking at those that may not even be able to understand what it is they are looking at.
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And then you have the false positives. And I know representative Granger mentioned criminals know how to use and abuse the system; and I certainly agree with that, as all law enforcement does. And that is evident when you look at the number of false positives that we get within these systems, that people who sneak into these systems, even knowing that they are fingerprint-based checks, I think there were 77,200 in 1997 alone.
One study you didn't mention was in the State of Ohio, and there is a representative from Ohio here, that we are working very closely here to do some newer things and do this even better.
In 1996, in the State of Ohio, there were 490,000 civil background checks, and they required fingerprints on those civil checks. They caught 9,000 people who used a different name that we never would have caught had we not used a fingerprint check, and that is just one State. I think that was worth noting.
The other thing that I would like to mention is that we are working very closely with some fixes on the Volunteers for Children Act. We have been working very closely as a matter of fact with the State of Florida, as well as our entire advisory policy board that we really are in partnership and answer to basically because 94 percent of the records in these system belong to States and local. They do not belong to the FBI. We just maintain them, and we really answer to them as far as the way these records should be used.
We are also working with the Search, which is the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, which has a representative from each State appointed by the governor that deals with criminal history record issues. They have a piece of legislation that they are going to be putting forward with many excellent changes to the Volunteers for Children Act that would make this process work a lot better and let the States do business the way they would like to do. And these are the kinds of things that we think would be very, very helpful in moving these things along.
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That is backed already and been voted on by the Compact Council which was formed as a result of the compact that was a unanimous passage within the House and Senate and the President signed which calls basically for fingerprint checks for all noncriminal justice purposes. So that has the full backingI happen to be a member of that Compact Council. We voted on this already. It is also backed by the Advisory Policy Board, Search, the Department of Justice and FBI.
So you should look to that as one way to maybe fix some of these things. And as for the time it takes for these checks, the good news is that we have a system that can in fact today, if you submit a print to us electronically, that we can turn a criminal print around in 2 hours, and we can turn a civil print, which we are talking about here, around in about 24 hours.
That system came up and started running July 28th of 1999. It is the IAFIS, Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, and to date 95 percent of all the transactions we have taken received electronically have met that 24 hour turnaround. I will tell you about 42 percent of all of the fingerprint cards that are coming into the FBI today now are coming to us electronically. The State of Texas happens to be the only State in the United States that is submitting to us both civil prints, criminal prints, and latent fingerprints to us electronically. So they are ahead of the rest of the Nation in this regard.
I am little confused as to why they are not submitting the civil cards in the case of these kind of applicants because we can pretty much guarantee them a 24-hour turnaround time now on those cards. Anything electronically, 95 percent of the time we are turning those around within those parameters. Even if you mail us a fingerprint cardand we are still getting, obviously, better than 50 percent of them coming through the mail. We have a card scanning system in Fairmont, West Virginia. We are scanning them in the system. We are doing those in less than 2 weeks now. We had at one time a three million backlog, then a million backlog. Today we have no backlog, and I imagine within the next few weeks here we will be doing even the paper fingerprint cards within 1 week's time.
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I did haveand I don't know where you want to go with this, Mr. Chairman, I have got a letter here from Bill Casey, who is our first vice chair of the Advisory Policy Board, he faxed me a letter. He was supposed to be with me here today representing the Advisory Policy Board, and he faxed me a copy of the letter which I understand was faxed to you this morning, and I didn't know if you wanted me to read that into the record.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Without objection, we will just simply put that in the record, and there is no objection. We do have a copy of that. Thank you very much, Mr. Loesch.
[The information referred to follows:]
Hon. Bill McCollum,
|Boston Police Department,|
Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
DEAR CHAIRMAN MCCOLLUM: I am writing to express my regrets at being unable to attend the meeting of your committee on May 18, 2000. An unexpected commitment has arisen that has prevented my attendance. The following comments refer to Congressman Pete Sessions' bill to temporarily eliminate the requirement that fingerprints be supplied for background checks on volunteers, and for other purposes. As First Vice-Chair, I am speaking on behalf of the Criminal Justice Information Services Division Advisory Policy Board (CJIS APB). The APB is comprised of thirty-two representatives from criminal justice agencies across the country. We represent state and local law enforcement agencies, corrections agencies, prosecutors, and the courts. The FBI established the APB and its supporting working groups and subcommittees to allow the users to share management of the country's major law enforcement information systems. As you are aware, these systems include the National Crime Information Center, the Interstate Identification Index, the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and others.
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The non-criminal justice use of the FBI's criminal history files has long been a major concern for us as a group. Because we have a strong law enforcement representation among our members, we are keenly attuned to importance of positive identification in the use of the records. While we know that in police investigative and emergency use a name search has some value because it will be followed up with other validating activities, we firmly believe that the approval of a license or the granting of unsupervised access to a child must be sanctioned only under the assurance of positive identification (i.e. fingerprint submission). We believe unequivocally that the only means of protecting vulnerable populations is through the submission of fingerprints for background clearances. This belief is supported by the report to the Attorney General prepared by SEARCH (the National Consortium for Criminal Justice Information and Statistics), the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the state of Florida, and the Advisory Policy Board, entitled Interstate Identification Index Name Check Efficacy: Report of the National Task Force to the U. S. Attorney General.
Because of that conviction, we applaud the Bill's intent to ultimately move to fingerprint submissions for volunteer background searches; however, we disagree that an interim name search strategy is in the public interest. In this regard, we are very supportive of the testimony of David Loesch, Assistant Director, FBI CJIS Division. In addition, we place special emphasis on the following points:
1. We do not believe the ''designation'' described in the bill will ever be accomplished in most states. The fingerprint searches will not ever be ''universally'' available, and there is no realistic expectation that the cost of the fingerprint searches will spontaneously decrease. Accordingly, we believe that this bill is essentially a permanent approval of name searches for volunteer background searches.
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2. We believe that placing the FBI ''seal of approval'' on name searches, even on an interim basis, will provide the uninformed with a false sense of security, and remove the imperative to require fingerprints submissions in the future. We believe that the use of name searches in the interim will, in fact, slow down the move to fingerprint searches.
3. We believe that allowing the name searches i n the interim will undermine the credibility of the national background process as a whole. By allowing the false negatives that will occur under name searches, we would be sanctioning theplacement of dangerous persons in the presence of children, the elderly and the disabled. The damage that will most certainly occur will be unrecoverable, even after having moved the national screening process back to a fingerprint requirement. Forever, the national screening process would bear the burden of all the harmful placements that would have taken place under an approved interim name search strategy.
4. We have a great concern that this bill would contradict the previous will of Congress regarding fingerprint submissions for non-criminal justice purposes. As you are aware, the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact Act of 1998, passed as a part of National Criminal History Access and Child Protection Act requires fingerprint submission on all non-criminal justice background searches. The approval of the Interstate Compact by the Congress and the subsequent ratification by several states have been milestones in the national strategy for managing criminal history records, and in managing their use. Fingerprint submission is an integral requirement of that strategy. In addition, while the present bill might remove the national requirement for fingerprints, it appears to us that the states who have already signed the Compact would remain bound to the requirement of fingerprints, in that they have entered into that agreement through the signing of the Cow-pact. We express to the committee our gravest concerns that this bill would undo in a few lines the significant benefits of the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact. We would also point the committee to the many other bills introduced in Congress which require fingerprints for non-criminal justice background searches.
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5. Finally, we believe that the best interim strategy is to encourage the FBI and the states to aggressively pursue the improvement of the non-criminal justice background check process. First, an emphasis must be put on the deployment of ''livescaif'' (electronic) fingerprint devices throughout the country to gather the volunteer and applicant fingerprints. At the same time, the FBI and the states must pursue new technologies and new processes to make the gathering and submission of the applicant prints more efficient and cost effective. Even absent electronic fingerprint submissions, however, the response times for applicant fingerprint checks has been greatly reduced by the implementation of the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) and less dramatic improvements in state AFIS systems. The old arguments of not being able to wait weeks for a background check to clear are no longer valid.
Again, we believe firmly that rather than sanctioning a process that is known to be inferior and dangerous, we must place emphasis on these constructive activities as the most effective interim strategy for reaching widespread fingerprint search capability. We recognize that in the present moment there is a large need for volunteer background searches. We believe, however, that the greatest public protection will be accomplished by pushing hard on the above-mentioned activities, rather than by allowing the name searches.
We have struggled with this issue for quite some time within the APB, and we have come to these conclusions after much debate among the persons who best know the data and the systems, and who use the data the most often. We are keenly aware of the difficulty of the issue, and we offer this guidance based solely upon our belief that this course is in the greatest public interest. Please do not hesitate to contact me or any member of the Advisory Policy Board to further discuss this matter.
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Boston Police Department.
|William Casey, Deputy Superintendent,|
Mr. MCCOLLUM. If you want to summarize any part of it that you think is important, please don't read the whole letter.
Mr. LOESCH. No. It basically says the same things that are in my testimony. And, I mean, it just basically goes to the fact that they really don't want to go down this road, that they feel that this would hinder in many ways the progress that we have already made in the fingerprint process in the electronic system to do this. And of course it lays out again how all the studies that have been done and how everybody is very worried about the false positives and the false negatives on these type of things and what we really need to do is continue to work very hard in the States to make sure that they start to access these systems that have now been built and use them and we continue to do everything we possibly can to work with these groups to make that happen.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you very much, Mr. Loesch. We appreciate your testimony.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Loesch follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DAVID R. LOESCH, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, CRIMINAL JUSTICE INFORMATION SERVICES DIVISION, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee I am David R. Loesch, Assistant Director in Charge of the Criminal Justice Information Services Division (or CJIS Division) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.(see footnote 1) The FBI has been asked to comment on proposed legislation which would authorize nationwide name checksrather than fingerprint-based checksof volunteers and we welcome this opportunity to provide the Congress with the FBI's views on this matter. Our position is predicated upon the extensive experience and lengthy discussions by legal, policy and technical specialists within the FBI, representatives of state criminal identification systems, and other federal agency information specialists who both contribute and use criminal history record information (or CHRI). In light of this collective wisdom, the FBI remains firmly opposed to name-based criminal history checks for noncriminal justice purposes, including that particular application envisioned by HR 3410.
Name checks are often argued as a substitute for fingerprints because of historical delays in processing fingerprint submissions. In 1997 the CJIS Division made a concerted effort to reduce its fingerprint backlog, which in turn, resulted in a corresponding drop in the number of days necessary to process fingerprint cards. The CJIS Division has eliminated its backlog, and the time to process civil fingerprint cards at the CJIS Division is presently eleven days.
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Let me assure you that the FBI is doing everything within its power to continue to reduce its processing times. The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (or IAFIS) became operational in July 1999. This next generation system culminated a decade-long effort costing approximately $640 million to wed the speed of name checks with the certainty of fingerprints. The IAFIS concept of operations detailed two hour criminal/twenty-four hour noncriminal turnaround on electronically submitted fingerprints, and it is operating within these parameters.
The implementation of the IAFIS, created the reality of fingerprint images taken at local law enforcement agencies by live-scan or card-scan equipment and then electronically transmitted to the FBI for processing by the FBI IAFIS. The IAFIS allows the FBI to provide no slower than 24-hour turnaround for civil fingerprint electronic submissions, providing the benefit of a prompt turnaround akin to that associated with name checks but with the certitude of a fingerprint check.
During the past two months, representatives of the FBI have met with representatives from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Boys and Girls Clubs, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Policy Development, as well as private employment associations and state governments. There is consistent recognition of the preferability of a fingerprint-based system, as well as an appreciation that, although no single application may warrant incurring the costs attending live scan technology, aggregation of uses (and users) more than justify its application.
In short, we are taking important steps to safeguard children and the elderly by improving the speed of background checks, but we are doing so without running the substantial risks posed by name-based checks.
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HR 3410 anticipates that the proposed name checks would be performed using the National Crime Information Center (or NCIC) Interstate Identification Index (or III), a predominantly name-based, descriptor, system. A system designed to promptly provide CHRI to law enforcement, it has operated since 1981 consistent with that intention. The III is an automated system of criminal history records accessed via the NCIC. It holds automated criminal history records on approximately 36 million individuals, but does not contain the manual criminal history records of approximately 5 million additional individuals which are not indexed in the III; hence, name checks on these individuals cannot be accomplished by performing an NCIC III check.
For almost twenty years, NCIC III has been relied upon because law enforcement ''on the scene'' had no fingerprint/positive identification alternative. This ''quick and dirty'' mechanism was relied upon with the understanding that a law enforcement officer could determine whether the suspect and the subject of the criminal record were the same by relying upon his training and experience.(see footnote 2) This same logic also supports the use of name-based checks in one unique, broad-based systemthe FBI's national instant check system (NICS) for proposed gun purchasers. The FBI's NICS examinerslike law enforcement officershave the training and experience to evaluate name-based background checks correctly, but the same is generally not true of others who would seek to use name-based checks for non-criminal justice purposes.
Since some 94% of the records in III are the property of state and local law enforcement, the CJIS Advisory Policy Board (APB) was established pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. Appendix 2. Comprised of representatives of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, the CJIS APB provides advice to the FBI Director and the Attorney General regarding proper use of CHRI. Regarding the instant matter, CJIS APB and FBI policy require positive fingerprint identification by the FBI or a State Identification Bureau (SIB) before use of the III to obtain criminal history records for noncriminal justice purposes.
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The great weight of the evidence supports the FBI and the CJIS APB's conclusion that a name check of criminal history record systems is a ''rough'' process which produces many ''false negatives'' (in which a criminal is not identified) and ''false positives'' (in which an individual without a criminal record is identified as having a record). It is only through the processing of fingerprints that one can actually verify whether a criminal history record is maintained on a particular individual.
Several examples warrant specific mention.
To fulfill the FBI's obligations under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, 31 U.S.C. §1116, in 1998 the CJIS Division analyzed a statistically valid sample of the 6.9 million fingerprint cards submitted for employment and licensing purposes during FY 1997. When compared with the criminal prints on file at the FBI, some 8.7 percent, or approximately 600,000 of the fingerprints, resulted in ''hits.'' Of greatest importance, we determined that some 11.7 percent of the hits, or 70,200 civil fingerprint cards, reflected entirely different names than those listed in the applicants' criminal history records and were only identified because of the fingerprint submissions. Hence, the criminal history records of these personswhom we deemed intentionally provided false names to evade detection of their recordswould have been missed entirely during the background examination had the record check been name-based. Using these projections, of the 52,000 applicants for school system employment, some 5,900 or 11 percent who had criminal histories would use names entirely different from that listed on their criminal record. These intentionally misleading applicants had prior convictions ranging from assault to drug sales and were only detected because of positive, fingerprint-based identification.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Two independent investigations by the Small Business Administration of individuals participating in its loan program also support the conclusion that the criminal element perceives names checks as an opportunity to perpetrate fraud. The SBA studies were performed because of the high rate of SBA loan default and the SBA's suspicion that a significant percentage was attributable to active and intentional borrower fraud. In reviewing some 3,300 nonperforming loans, it was determined that 11.6 percent of these borrowers had concealed the existence of their criminal past and had fraudulently certified that they did not have criminal records. Spurred on by these figures, the SBA conducted a second investigation of 500 defaulting loans and found that some 8 percent of nonperforming loans were to borrowers with intentionally undisclosed criminal records. Fingerprint checks of these individuals would have thwarted most of these schemes.
In 1996, the State of Ohio went to an ''all fingerprint'' system for noncriminal justice purposes. In 1999, that state alone performed more than 490,000 background checks, and determined that it ''caught'' more than 9,000 individuals with criminal records who would not have been identified as criminals had name checks (and other descriptors) been used in lieu of fingerprints. The significance of this figure cannot be overstated, inasmuch as these nine thousand applicants knew that they were being fingerprinted and that such fingerprints were going to be analyzed. It is our opinion that the number would have been much higher had these applicants been required to undergo backgrounding predicated instead upon name and descriptor check.
In addition to the statistical evidence, various specific incidents warrant your attention:
The Department of Defense (DOD), consistent with a report from the General Accounting Office (GAO),(see footnote 3) decided to abandon its traditional practice of limiting its inquiry to performing ''simple'' name checks on those applicants for enlistment who fail to reveal potentially disqualifying criminal backgrounds. Its prior practice had contributed, in part, to an inordinate rate of courts martial involving enlistees with prior, undisclosed, criminal records. Instead of fingerprinting only those who reveal a potentially disqualifying criminal history, the DOD is developing a system to fingerprint all applicants. The GAO Report recommended:
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The Secretary of Defense [should] require all national agency checks for enlistment into the military service to be based on a full fingerprint search to (1) reduce the risks associated with enlisting individuals who have been convicted of the more serious misdemeanors and felonies and (2) identify individuals who have used aliases.
In 1998, New York City Patrolman Anthony Mosomillo died because a fugitive parolee in police custody on an unrelated charge was released on bond by using fake identification to evade detection during a name-based check. Once released, he was able to assault and kill Officer Mosomillo. As a result of that incident, New York City abandoned the name check policy it had in effect since the mid-1970s and now uses only fingerprint-based identification prior to releasing arrestees on bond, explicitly recognizing that name-based identification is not only untrustworthy, but dangerous.
Some states even go so far as prohibiting placement of personnel until after the results of a fingerprint-based criminal background investigation are available. California, which experienced firsthand the dangers of placing unidentified criminals in positions wherein they could prey upon those most at risk, expressly forbids the employment of applicants during the pendency of their fingerprint-based check. Section 45125 of the California Education Code mandates that during the background investigation, ''[if a school district is notified by the (California) Department of Justice that it cannot ascertain the required information about a person, the school district may not employ that person until the (California) Department of Justice ascertains that information.'' This is not a unique statutory provision or policy initiative.
Of course, the preceding statistical and anecdotal information only tell a part of the story, that of the ''false negatives.'' They fail to relate the consequences of the ''false positives'': those persons who are inaccurately and unjustly identified as having a criminal record because of similar descriptors.
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Statistics maintained by the FBI reflect that approximately 8.7 percent of the 6.9 million civil fingerprint submissions in FY 1997 were matched with criminal records. Yet, when name check inquiries of all types were made on NCIC's III for calendar year 1997, an astonishing 39.34 percent of the 33,753,306 inquiries were ''hits.'' Because of FBI concern that the majority of these inquiries were in response to what was perceived as possible criminal activity (wherein recidivism might upwardly skew the percentage), we removed those inquiries from our analysis. The remaining 6,049,649 inquiries were conducted on individuals for purposes such as national security checks under the Security Clearance Information Act, 5 U.S.C. §9101, and for criminal justice employment. Logically, these populations should have no greater incidence of prior criminality than the general population and, most likely, reflect a smaller incidence of prior criminality than the 8.7 percent reflected by the general population screened using fingerprint submissions. The results were nonetheless astonishing.
Of these 6 million noncriminal justice inquiries, 977,426, or some 16.2 percent of the names checked, resulted in ''hits''. In light of the 8.7 percent of civil applicants which are historically identified by fingerprints with criminal records, we can conclude that at least 7.5 percent (the 16.2 percent less the 8.7 percent), are ''false positives.'' To translate such percentage into real terms, had name checks been made of the 6.9 million civil applicants, some 517,500 ''false positives'' would have resulted, and these individuals would have been, at least temporarily, falsely identified with criminal records. Stigmatization is the least of the consequences of ''false positives'': because of the confidentiality typically associated with personnel decisions and criminal history record information, an applicant incorrectly identified may well not have an opportunity to challenge the incorrect determination and denial of employment or volunteer opportunities.
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The validity of this calculus was again confirmed by another CJIS Division study. A statistical review of the first seven months of FY 1998 disclosed that of the 3,038,497 civil fingerprint cards processed, 382,063 individuals (or some 12.6 percent) were tentatively identified as having criminal histories by name checks. However, when fingerprint comparisons were subsequently made, only 260,159 (or 68.1 percent) of those tentatively identified were positively identified. The remaining 121,904, or some 31.9 percent of those tentatively identified, were ''false positives''.(see footnote 4)
Recognizing the forces which call for the instant legislation, in June 1998, the Attorney General commissioned a task force consisting of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the FBI, to study the issue of name checks for noncriminal justice purposes. In July 1999, the Interstate Identification Index Name Check Efficacy: Report of the National Task Force to the U.S. Attorney General (Name Check Efficacy Study) was concluded. The Name Check Efficacy Study rendered the following conclusions which support the FBI's position:
FBI fingerprint searches are highly preferable to III name checks as a means of criminal history screening. Individual fingerprint patterns are known to be unique. For this reason, fingerprint comparison is, and has for many decades been, the accepted standard for establishing positive identification of criminal history record subjects in the United States. Modern automated fingerprint identification systems are believed to produce identification error rates of less than one percent. Compared to FBI fingerprint searches, III name checks result in appreciable numbers of both false positives and false negatives.
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In this regard, the study suggests that if the 6.9 million civil applicant background checks processed by the FBI in 1997 had been processed by III name checks alone, approximately 346,500 false positives and 70,200 false negatives would have resulted. In addition, it is clear from the number of name checks being conducted at the state level against state databases that the absolute number of false positives and false negatives would be significantly higher in a national system that permitted III name checks in lieu of fingerprint searches. The convenience of name checks would encourage many more requests for national criminal record searches than the 6.9 million submissions received by the FBI in 1997 under current procedures requiring the obtaining and submission of fingerprints.
Since the prospect of fingerprint-based criminal history record screening deters persons with criminal histories from applying for positions for which they are not fit, it can be inferred that the incidence of false negatives documented by the study of Florida civil applicants would be higher in an environment in which name search-only background checks were permitted.
The Task Force acknowledges that a number of state criminal history record repositories have for many years used name checks as the sole method of searching their state criminal history files for a variety of noncriminal justice purposes. A primary rationale for these uses of name checks is that fingerprint-based searches commonly entail long mailing and processing delays which are inconsistent with the needs of record users with time-critical requirements. In addition, the process of having one's fingerprints taken for background screening purposes may be inconvenient or even impracticable and usually involves the payment of a fee.
The development and implementation of automated fingerprint identification systems and related technologies providing for the electronic capturing and transmission of fingerprint images has made it possible to dramatically reduce fingerprint transmission and processing delays at both the state and federal levels.
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Hence, the Name Check Efficacy Study confirmed the FBI's position and the position of law enforcement in general that fingerprints should be required for noncriminal justice access to CHRI.
As many of you are aware, the CJIS APB has repeatedly weighed in against name checks for other than criminal justice purposes. Moreover, at the June 1997 CJIS APB meeting in St. Petersburg, Attorney General Reno, in speaking in support of Title I of the National Criminal History Access and Privacy Act, explicitly affirmed ''the belief reflected in the Interstate Compact that fingerprint-based [checks] (sic) are better than name-based ones. . . .'' The Attorney General applauded the Interstate Compact as ''a sensible and an efficient approach to the interstate exchange of criminal history information for noncriminal justice purposes. The Interstate Compact will require the certainty which comes from fingerprint-based identification prior to the release of criminal history information.'' As the Attorney General recognized, although there are some time and cost savings associated with the name-check system, its imperfection stands in stark contrast ''to the absolute accuracy and reliability associated with fingerprint-based background checks.(see footnote 5)
Reliance on III name checks alone as a method for criminal history record screening can mean that, on a national basis, large numbers of persons who do not have disqualifying criminal records may be unfairly excluded. More importantly, large numbers of persons may be permitted to volunteer in positions for which they are unfit and in which they pose societal risks because their criminal records are not discovered.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Recent federal legislation also serves to reaffirm the commitment to fingerprints. The National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact, Title II of Pub. L. 105251 (the Compact), requires that ''Subject fingerprints or other approved forms of positive identification shall be submitted with all requests for criminal history record checks for noncriminal justice purposes'' (Article V[a]). Six states (Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and Nevada) have adopted the Compact and its governing body, the Compact Council, has met and is implementing the Compact.
In addition to the Compact, recently enacted criminal backgrounding legislation specifically requires fingerprints. Pub. L. 105277 (concerning nursing homes and home health care agencies) and the Volunteers for Children Act (Section 221 and 222 of Pub. L. 105251), which amended the National Child Protection Act, impose a fingerprint requirement for noncriminal justice access.
Numerous federal statutes also authorize fingerprint-based access to FBI CHRI for noncriminal justice purposes. See, e.g., 15 U.S.C. §78q, concerning the securities industry; 7 U.S.C. §21(b)(4)(e), concerning the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; 10 U.S.C. §520a, concerning military recruiting; 42 U.S.C. §2169, concerning Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulatees; 5 U.S.C. §9101, concerning the five Security Clearance Information Act (SCIA) agencies; Pub. L. 100413, the Parimutuel Licensing Simplification Act (appearing at note to 28 U.S.C. §534); 49 U.S.C. §44936, the Aviation Security Improvement Act of 1990; 42 U.S.C. §13041, concerning day care providers at federal facilities; 25 U.S.C. §320507, concerning child care workers on Indian reservations; 25 U.S.C. §2701 et seq., the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act; Pub. L. 105277, concerning workers at nursing homes and home health care agencies; and 42 U.S.C. §5119a, the National Child Protection Act, as amended by the Volunteers for Children Act.
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In light of the significant impact upon the states which contribute 94 percent of the CHRI in the FBI database, a survey was conducted commencing January 27, 2000, which indicated that only 10 of 50 states responding viewed favorably a proposal which would expand name checks to the extent envisioned by the instant legislation.
These are serious and complicated areas for discussion, and the FBI appreciates the opportunity to provide the Subcommittee with our views. Be assured that the FBI is continuously concerned with improving its service to both the criminal justice community and other agencies authorized access to our system of records.
Mr. Chairman this completes my prepared statement, I am now ready to answer any questions you might have.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. I recognize myself for a couple of questions.
I am, first of all, going to make the observation that I am truly pleased and somewhat surprised that you have no backlog now. That is just terrific news. We know when you had thousands of those, maybe hundreds of thousands at one point. So that is a terrific improvement on it.
One of the questions being posed to us is the one about costs. What does it cost? What is the charge for this service to the civilian side of the ledger?
Mr. LOESCH. On a fingerprint right now for a volunteer it is $16 for the charge for that, for the fingerprint. The normal charge for prints is $18 plus a $6 surcharge. So in most other cases for like a school bus driver or teacher they are payingI am corrected here. They tell me it is $18 for volunteers, but there is no surcharge on itordinarily we charge a surcharge of $6.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. All right. Thank you.
Is there any chance now that this is automated so fully that those charges will go down or is that locked by statute? Where do those charges come from?
Mr. LOESCH. They come from a lot of analysis. We have had outside analysis by a couple of accounting firms, and we contiually review this on like a monthly basis. And what we are really looking at, because we really can't charge any more than it really costs to run the operation, so there is a lot of pieces that go into coming up with that charge, and we are really waiting till we have had the system up and running for one full year before we call our outside firm in once again to go through this and really see what it is costing us. So right now that is the cost.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Presumably that when the analysis is done if there were a lot of people to leave this system and we gave them permission to use the NCIC system, this would actually cause the cost pressures to go up because you would have less usage or is just the opposite true?
Mr. LOESCH. I would think that you would have to come up with a lot more money to run the systems than in the future through direct funding. Because a good portion of our business is user fee based, and it pays for a lot of that system. Fifty-two percent of all of my operations and maintenance along with a good portion of the support population out there is paid for by user fees because we don't charge a fee for the criminal services which is half the business. So that money would have to come from someplace else in the future then.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. There is no tax base for that. We are not allocating an appropriations to pay for the criminal service. You are paying for the criminal service out of these fees, is that right?
Mr. LOESCH. The criminal service comes from direct appropriations, and then what we do is pay for the civil with the fee that we collect.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. So this fee is not subsidizing the criminal portion of it.
Mr. LOESCH. No, sir.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. I just want to make that clear. How many States currently require at least some companies, organizations to submit employee or volunteer fingerprints to the FBI, do you know?
Mr. LOESCH. My partner back here tells me that there are statutes in place in every State now, and Maine was the last State last year to do that. And so that there is a statute in place now where they can be submitted in every single State.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. So they presumably are being submitted in every State.
Do private groups or citizens have access to NCIC today or just law enforcement agencies?
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Mr. LOESCH. Just criminal justice agencies.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. So if we went to an access system for that, the NCIC system, there would have to be involvement of the local law enforcement agency as an intermediary. Is that true today of this system, of the fingerprint system? I assume it must be.
Mr. LOESCH. The way this works, obviously, is we have an access point in every State; we have a wide area network that we send to one point within every State, all 50 States. Then what happens is from the various police departments and local entities, they filter into that State, and that State sends them down to us, which is critical in anything we do, especially when we start dealing with children or people that are going to be working with these groups. Because you definitely want the check to go through the State system.
And that is one thing that I couldn't stress strongly enough. Because the FBI, the records we have, we don't have all the complete files. I mean, California tells me we only have one-third of their criminal history data. Texas says we have got less than half of all that is out there because there are many different misdemeanor violations and the mental disability type of information or driving type of records, reckless driving and those types of things, public nuisances and exposures and things like that. We wouldn't have that kind of information in our system. That is why it is so important to go through the State first.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. I want to follow up with one last question as my time expires. You have indicated, as I recall, that Texas is the only State to be fully electronic in submitting its fingerprint data to date, if I am not mistaken. Do you have a prediction on when most of fingerprints that are submitted will be by electronic? Is there some goal, some objective measuring of likelihood in this?
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Mr. LOESCH. Yes, sir. They are not the only ones submitting. I mean, they are the only one that is doing all three is what I meant. There areactually, today, there are 11 States submitting criminal and civil prints. It just turned out that Texas has one up on everybody else. They are also submitting latent fingerprints to us remotely and having tremendous success on that.
But we have a schedule, and mostly every State will be up and running with us in 2001. Right now, we are pretty well along on that schedule. A good number of them will come on at the end of this year when WIN, the Western Identification Network, we just gave them an ORI, originating number, and they will be submitting for about five or six States coming up this summer into us.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. But the problems of delay is partly in the States, but that would not be true in Texas now I guess if they have got all their stuff going?
Mr. LOESCH. That is true. They are the best.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Okay. Mr. Scott, you are recognized.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to add my congratulations to the FBI in removing that backlog. The fingerprint database is extremely important along with the DNA database in helping us quickly separate the guilty from the innocent. If the database is up to date, the evidence found at the scene can be run through the database; and we can find culprits quickly and efficiently without having to inconvenience those who should not be suspects. So having that database up to date is extremely important. If we can get the same thing done with DNA, I think we will have gone a long way in helping our criminal justice system.
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Mr. Loesch, you mentioned the cost at $16 to $18; and you calculated the cost. Do you have an estimate of the marginal cost rather than theI assume you just add up all the costs and divide by 6,900,000. Do you have a marginal cost? What the next one costI can't imagine it couldn't be $16 to $18.
Mr. LOESCH. I am not quiteI am not picking that up really. I don't quite understand that.
Mr. SCOTT. A lot of the costs are embedded. Do you buy computers? If you don't do a single test, you have already spent that money. What is the cost to you for each additional background check that is made, just the actual cost for that individual one, not the embedded costs that you have already spent the money for?
Mr. LOESCH. I don't have that figure. In fact, we don't even have the costwe didn't even use a depreciation cost in coming up with the particular model that we used or that the accountantthey give us what is acceptable government practices for charging off. And we charged those items off basically.
There is an OMB circular 825 has the formula. I don't have the formula. I am not a CPA, and I don't involve myself quite to that detail on it, I am sorry. We can certainly get you what that model would be and a breakdown of that.
The costs are going up, I will tell you. And that is one of the things thatI have had many people come to us and say, now that we have got this automated system it is going to be cheaper, right? I said, no, you are getting better service; and you are going to pay for this service.
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The fact is, these systems are so complex and so costly to run and maintain, especially this softwarewe have 400 bundles of software in one segment with 20 million lines of code, and every time somebody changes that software that has got to be reintegrated and made to work together with it, and the costs are about probably 10 times what they were in the past to run these.
And we still haven't got our first contract out yet on Operations and Maintenance for this system, so we don't even know what it is going to cost us yet for the next couple of years, given estimates.
Mr. SCOTT. Do you have an estimate of what it would cost if you did not chargehow much we would have to fund the agency if you didn't charge at all?
Mr. LOESCH. Well, I can onlywell, we figured on NICS, which is the name check system, when we tried to go forward with a cost on that and we came up at $14 for that, and I mean I can only assumewe have got over 500 people in NICS.
Mr. SCOTT. If we are doing a global budget, am I to assume that 6.9 million times $18 is about what it would cost to provide the service for free?
Mr. LOESCH. Where is the 6.9 million figure?
Mr. SCOTT. That is the number of civil background.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LOESCH. That is the civil checks that were done in 1997.
Mr. SCOTT. So if we were to just decide that this ought to be a free service, would 6.9 times 18 be the amount of money that we would have to be looking at?
Mr. LOESCH. I don't know. Because we would have to go back and look at the number of people. We figured if we were running a national system, we would need about 2,000 more people to do the record checks out there. Because NICS, to do six million alone, takes usto run through those records on a name check system has taken us 534 people plus another hundred people doing nothing but records. And that is only when you are bouncing over the ones that are not full proceeds and that is taking me that full number of people. So you would be talking a whole lot of people to do that.
Mr. SCOTT. 6.9 million names or fingerprints?
Mr. LOESCH. Well, we, in this case.
Mr. SCOTT. Or a combination of both?
Mr. LOESCH. Well, if you are talking civil prints, a lot of the figures we throw around are 6.9 million fingerprint checks that were done back in 1997 and '98 time frame. You could probably get close to that, but you would probably still be in theI am just being given a note here. Depends on the number of fingerprint card submissions.
Mr. SCOTT. Let me ask a quick question. What is the turnaround time for fingerprints and what is the turnaround time for the name check?
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Mr. LOESCH. The name check should be pretty much instant type of check if you are querying the system. I guess the question is, how is it going to be done and how are they going to do it? Are they going to call into a call center like we have set up in NICS where somebody goes through and looks at all that stuff and the FBI and bypasses the Statewhich would take a lot of people, obviously.
Mr. SCOTT. How do you do it for a Brady check?
Mr. LOESCH. The Brady check, we have a whole system set up. We were appropriated $70 million to do that, and we have an outside telephone call center withat times mushrooms up to 500 people in it. And when we get those calls and you get a hit, 70 percent of the time the people get a proceed and they go on, they walk out of there within a few minutes.
Then the ones we get hits on bounce over to the FBI, and that is where 500 analysts have to go through the record and find out is that really John Jones. And then when they get done with that, then you still have the problem of finding out where the dispositions are. Because 50 percent of all the records we have, have no dispositions. So you have got to call out to the State courts and dig down deep inside those things and find them; and it is a very difficult, long process that takes a lot of people and a lot of money.
Mr. SCOTT. One final question. There has been disagreement over what is going on in Texas. If a volunteer organization had a fingerprint for someone in Texas and wanted a background check, when could they get an answer?
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Mr. LOESCH. Well, they would submit it through the State repository, and as soon as the State repository put it in the electronic system they would have an answer back within 24 hours from us.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Chabot, you are recognized.
Mr. CHABOT. Earlier in your testimony you mentioned that you had a 40 percent hit rate. Did you mean if it is just by name and not by fingerprint?
Mr. LOESCH. Yes, sir; 40 percent hit rate in all the checks that we did in III during the year that police and everybody else40 percent of the time we get a hit because of the search parameters. But you have law enforcement officers that are trained investigators and they are trained and they know exactly what they are looking for. And as they pursue whether they are going to hold somebody or how they should treat this individualand we get those kind of rates all the time.
Mr. CHABOT. Now, the one concern that I have, and I am basically supportive of this, but if you have the false positive situation here, what happens when you get one like a false positive? What sort of safety technique or what is your procedure at that point?
Mr. LOESCH. See, the only time we are really dealing with these false positives right now is because the only areas we use these are in the NICS type of program. What we do is we have records people actually that are trained in filing and in looking at criminal history records and we go through and we try to determine is that or isn't that the same person. You ask a whole bunch of more questions. But in the very end, if we really still can't figure it out, we get fingerprints from them and we match them up and tell them.
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That is the process we use even in NICS today. We have an appeal process that people go through, but in the end it comes down to taking a fingerprint card and saying, yeah, that really isn't John J. or John Jones.
Mr. CHABOT. I think that is all the questions I have at this time. Thank you very much.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Chabot.
Mr. Loesch, before you leave, I wanted to ask you, the NICS system was down last weekend notoriously for 4 days. Why?
Mr. LOESCH. A corruption problem in one of our main databases. What went down was the III, which has 36 million criminal histories in it; and even though there are numerous redundancies and backups built into there, it still went down. And as we worked our way through that, we spent firstit was down 66 hoursit took us to bring it back up and recover it. We don't have the root cause yet of what really happened. It wasn't hacked into.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. It wasn't sabotaged?
Mr. LOESCH. No. No, sir. We have got an investigation going on internally, just like we would a criminal type of investigation, to look at all those things. But because of the kind of platform it is on and the security measures, we are pretty certain that it is a glitch in one of the databases.
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It has been up and running. Two years we have tested it. We have been using III for 10 years. We have never had this problem before. And even in the first 9 months it has been working very well. But once that went down, of courseit didn't ruin the rest of NCIC. All the other hot files were still up that police officers would use for wanted people and protection orders and things of that nature, but it did take us out of service in there.
We are working now, because we have had some outages in that program here over the last year or so where we have some problems in the IAFIS segment, the ITN we call it. It is a traffic cop that works everything. It goes down once in a while. What we are trying to do now is give a direct pathway for NICS right into III so it doesn't have to go through the ITN, which is the fingerprint processing system, but even if we had that it wouldn't have mattered in this case. It would have still taken it down.
The good news is, thank God we were able to bring it all back up again and recover the entire database. But I sent a letter out to about 140 members I believe yesterday just to keep everybody apprised of what is going on, and I will probably have another report back out to everybody up here as soon as we find out what it is.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. The problems with regard to the system have been cited to us by the gun show operators several times saying that, you know, it is every other week it is going down for a few hours. This is a more systemic and more serious problem than whatever it has taken down in those instances they are describing?
Mr. LOESCH. Yes, sir. In the past, there has been glitches as we broughtit is a brand new system, and it is very sophisticated, and we are just learning how to use it and operate it, and we are still delivering pieces of it. We have got a new build going in this weekend again, one of the final ones, and each time as we learn our way through this and bring this thing up, our people are learning little by little as we go along. I think that is to be expected in any large development, there is $800,000,000 worth of new equipment out there, and we are all learning as we go.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. I just didn't want you to come over hereyou are in charge of that, and I couldn't very well have a hearing today if I didn't ask you that question, even though the hearing is not on that subject.
Mr. Scott, do you want to follow up on that at all?
Mr. SCOTT. Well, not follow up on that. I had one just clarification. The cost is $18 for the fingerprint. Is there a cost for the name background check?
Mr. LOESCH. We don't do name checks except in a very few cases, like some special cases, security type of checks that we are allowed to do. They are for government agencies usually, and they are like $2, and they go into a database. But then they are all part of like a full field background investigation where people are actually going out to the States and looking into the records and everything else.
Mr. SCOTT. What do you charge on the Brady checks?
Mr. LOESCH. We can't charge anything for the Brady checks.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Before you leave, I just want to clarify one thing. Do you have a problem or are you aware of delays in thegoing back to fundamental question of this bill, the submission by the State officials of volunteer and private organization requests. Are you aware of their causing delays at the State level that are not yours in getting this information processed and sent to you and so forth?
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Mr. LOESCH. Not specifically, I mean, that anybody would be holding back sending these things in. But, I mean, the delay today is definitely from the locals into the State and from the State into us. I meanbut as quick as they either mail them to us or they send it to us electronically we have no delays in our building.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. With a 24-hour turnaround you are getting it done, is what you are sayingno backlogs, no delay, et cetera. All right. That is what I wanted to know. Thank you very, very much and thank you for being here, Mr. Loesch.
Our next panel of witnesses I am about to introduce here, if I can find my introductory sheet, Panel III consists of two witnesses. We would like for them to come forward.
Julie Thomas, who is the Executive Director of the Volunteer Center of Dallas County in Dallas, Texas. Under her leadership the Volunteer Center initiated the first criminal background checking system in Texas for volunteers and staff members in nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining the Volunteer Center in February of 1987, she directed the education department for the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce. Her other professional experiences include teaching in the Chicago public schools and various communications and public relation positions.
The second panelist is Ben Casey who has served as President of the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas Texas since 1987. The Dallas Y is one of the largest in the United States, serving over 259,000 members. He has been associated in different capacities with the YMCA since 1966, including President of the New Orleans YMCA and Central Branch Executive in San Francisco, California. Mr. Casey received his Bachelors Degree from UCLA and his master's degree from Chapman College.
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Al Philippus is the Chief of Police for the San Antonio, Texas, Police Department. He was appointed to the San Antonio Police Department in 1975, has served in all ranks within the Department. Over the past 24 years he has built an impressive record of accomplishments, both in the San Antonio Police Department and as a national leader in the policing profession. Chief Philippus received his undergraduate degree from Southwest Texas State University and his master's degree in criminal justice from Sam Houston University.
We want to welcome all three of you here today. Thank you for coming quite some distance to be with us. Your written testimony will be admitted into the record in its entirety without objection, and I hear none, so it is so ordered, and we will ask each of you to summarize in about five minutes if you could.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. First, Ms. Thomas, you are recognized.
STATEMENT OF JULIE THOMAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VOLUNTEER CENTER OF DALLAS COUNTY, DALLAS, TX
Ms. THOMAS. Thank you very much. We appreciate the opportunity to address you today.
I have been the Executive Director of the Volunteer Center in Dallas since 1987. We are the third largest of about 450 volunteer centers. We serve 1,400 nonprofit organizations. We have 11,614 volunteer jobs in our database. This is to give you an idea of our scope.
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Primarily, Volunteer Centers act as promoters of volunteerism, recruiters and then referrals of those volunteers, and each committee member has a very strong Volunteer Center in their home community.
In the early 90's, a handful of primarily youth-serving organizations asked us if we would help them develop a better screening system for volunteers. They were finding increasingly that child molestation was happening in youth-serving organizations at the hands of staff and volunteers. Whenever an incident would occur, the first question the courts would ask, did you do a criminal background check on this volunteer? In most cases, the answer was no, because criminal histories were not readily available to nonprofits.
Working through the Texas State legislature we gained access to Texas criminal histories using a name-based search. A prudent, very careful process was developed. Certainly the criminal search is not the only thing that happens when this occurs. The process that we use was reviewed by 14 different types of attorneys, five criminal judges and the ACLU; and they all concurred that it was a fine process. The user-trained agencies, meaning organizations such as the YMCA, are trained in the multistepped screening process. Running a background check is the ultimate step. Before that occurs there are face-to-face interviews, reference checks and so forth.
To date, Dallas County has conducted 184,000 criminal background checks on volunteers. We consistently find a hit rate of 7 percent. The offenses range from driving while intoxicated to murder, rape and child molestation. Other volunteer centers in Texas are discovering similar or higher hit rates. It blows my mind that these individuals give written consent to have these checks conducted and then when they are found out they are surprised. Obviously, they do not believe the checks will be conducted. I can't imagine how many must be slipping through the cracks because we don't do national checks.
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We currently check in Dallas County the criminal histories for 283 different nonprofit organizations. Mostly they are youth-serving organizations, but we also work with groups that serve the elderly, the disabled and many churches. The Dallas Police Department, the San Antonio Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety and many other law enforcement organizations have agreed that we need access to name-based criminal histories until a fingerprint system is readily available. We have found that those who oppose a name-based check at the national level usually argue that name-based searches will lull nonprofit organizations into a false sense of security because they are not as reliable as fingerprints.
Certainly we would prefer that fingerprints would be the system we could use. However, as it has been stated, in the meantime, something is better than nothing. Not only is the cost in Texas prohibitive, but the time it currently is taking is 8 to 10 weeks. I have no idea why it takes that long. It may be a State problem as opposed to an FBI problem, but those are the facts, and that is just too long.
I have been told by public prosecutors at all levels that very seldom are fingerprints used to verify the background of informants, suspects or witnesses. Name-based searches are considered adequate. Why then should the nonprofit sector be obligated to use fingerprints to verify identity when law enforcement officers don't?
Other examples abound where name-based checks are deemed adequatebuying a firearm, a motorist who is stopped for a traffic violation. Criminal defendants and informants frequently testify on FBI cases in Federal courts without a fingerprint check to verify prior records.
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The second argument that is frequently used is that name-based searches are inaccurate. The study that was mentioned where 11.7 percent of the checks were inaccurate, I would suggest to you that that means 89 percent were accurate. Look at the converse of that argument. When we have a system in place that depends on something besides a name-based record, there is an interview, a reference check and so forth. I would suggest that 89 percent accuracy is better than what we are doing now, which is nothing.
Some might point to the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact as a solution to our dilemma. You know what that system does. And it is supposed to, at some point in time, make information about histories available to noncriminal jurisdictions. Very few States are participating currently, and we cannot wait until that system is fully developed.
More than ever beforeand I represent 1,400 nonprofit organizations scattered throughout north Texas. I would encourage you to understand that nonprofit groups are being charged with cleaning up society's flaws. We face diminished funding, increasing client loads and a scarcity of volunteers. These issues all complicate our role. We need this very basic assistance in protecting our vulnerable clients to avoid their further exploitation. Unfortunately, increasing problems are occurring, not just in youth-serving agencies but in those groups that serve the elderly and the disabled.
We seek your help in finding a temporary way to ease our burden while we realize that the ultimate best system would be fingerprint. We need help right now, and we encourage you to understand and to move toward that help.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you very much.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you very much, Ms. Thomas.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Thomas follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF JULIE THOMAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VOLUNTEER CENTER OF DALLAS COUNTY, DALLAS, TX
In the early 90s, a handful of the agencies asked us to help them develop a more reliable screening system for their volunteers. Before deploying these volunteers to work with vulnerable clients, the agencies were seeking access to criminal histories. Whenever an incident occurred within a Dallas agency, the first question asked by the courts was ''Did you conduct a criminal background check on this volunteer?'' At the time, criminal histories were not readily available to nonprofit organizations.
Working through the state legislature, we gained access to Texas criminal histories using a name-based search. A prudent, careful process was developed to do thisit begins with the volunteer giving us written consent to conduct such a search. The process we use was reviewed by fourteen attorneys, five criminal judges and the ACLU. It was endorsed by all. There is no unwarranted invasion of personal privacy because the individual has given full consent in writing. Moreover, the user-agencies are trained in the multi-stepped screening process. Running a background check is the final step of a comprehensive process that includes face to face interviews, checking of references, etc.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To date, Dallas has conducted 184,000 criminal background checks on volunteers. Consistently, we find a 7% ''hit'' rate . . . the offenses range from driving while intoxicated to murder, rape and child molestation. Other volunteer centers in Texas are discovering similar or higher ''hit'' rates. Can you imagine that these individuals give written consent for this background check? Obviously, they don't believe the checks will be conducted. Who knows how many are slipping through because we only run a state check. It is a proven fact that convicted pedophiles move. In the last few years, I personally know of three cases in Dallas County where volunteers molested agency clients. In each case, the perpetrator had moved to Texas from another state where they had colorful records. However, a statewide check revealed no incidents.
We currently check criminal histories for 283 nonprofit organizations in Dallas County. Every agency we serve without exception wants access to national criminal histories using a name-based search. However, we have no meaningful way to check backgrounds on those who are new to Texas.
The Dallas Police Department, the San Antonio Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety all have agreed that national, name-based searches should be available to nonprofit organizations. The Texas Attorney General has endorsed this stance. We could go on and get many more endorsements from law enforcement agencies. However, we hope that won't be necessary.
Those who opposed a name-based check at the national level usually argue that name based searches will ''lull'' nonprofit organizations into a false sense of security because they are not as reliable as fingerprints.
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We would prefer fingerprint checks because we realize they are the most reliable form of identification. However, in Texas they cost $18.00 per check and the turnaround time is lengthy. 810 weeks. The costs and turnaround time are not reasonable. Imagine, for example, the Girl Scouts in Dallas conduct about 5,000 checks per year. The cost of fingerprinting those volunteers would be around $90,000. To afford that cost, many little girls would get shortchanged on their troop experience. Besides, fingerprints must be taken at a law enforcement site. Somehow, volunteers resent going to the police station or the sheriff's office to give fingerprints when all they wanted to do was coach soccer.
I have been told by public prosecutors at all levels that very seldom are fingerprints used to verify the backgrounds of informants, suspects or witnesses. Name-based searches are considered adequate. Why then should the nonprofit sector be obligated to use fingerprints to verify identity Other examples abound where name-based checks are deemed adequate by law enforcement: 1) buying a firearm 2) a motorist stopped for a traffic violation 3) criminal defendants and informants testify on FBI cases in federal courts without a fingerprint check to verify prior records.
The second argument is that name-based searches are often inaccurate. In 1997, the FBI conducted a study to determine the efficacy of name-based checks. More than 70,000 records were reviewed and the findings revealed that only 11.7% of the fingerprint records failed to match the name-based search. Approximately one out of every ten name-based checks is inaccurate. That means about 90% of the time, name-based checks are accurate. That's a strong statistic. Especially when it is linked with a multi-step process that provides a ''safety net'' to minimize the likelihood of slip-ups.
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Some might point to The National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact as a solution to our dilemma. It was developed in 1998 and allows for states to ratify and then exchange criminal histories with other cooperating states. This information is exchanged for non-criminal purposes . . . checking backgrounds of hospital workers, day care workers, etc. OnlyXXXXXXXstates are currently participating
More than ever before, nonprofit organizations are being charged with cleaning up society's flaws. Diminished funding, increasing client loads and a scarcity of volunteers complicate the role of most nonprofit organizations. We need this very basic assistance in protecting our vulnerable clients to avoid further exploitation. Unfortunately, the problems are not always adults preying upon children. The elderly and disabled are also targets for violent assaults.
We seek your help in easing the way by giving us access to name-based searches for a short-term fix on this problem.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Casey, you are recognized.
STATEMENT OF BEN CASEY, PRESIDENT, YMCA OF METROPOLITAN DALLAS, DALLAS, TX
Mr. CASEY. Thank you, Chairman McCollum and committee members.
At the Dallas YMCA, the safety and well-being of the more than 160,000 children who participate in our programs annually is our highest priority. The success of our programs in providing children with positive, life-changing experiences depends heavily on the 10,000 talented, dedicated and committed staff and volunteers who work directly with these children every day.
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To ensure that only the right individuals are in contact with these children we must screen all individuals working with them and around the YMCA. We know that pedophiles and others who would like to take advantage of children are drawn to places where children gather, and we must do everything in our power to avoid misconduct by any individual.
As Congressman Sessions said earlier, I have had the very difficult task of calling a parent and telling them that their child has been abused. I don't want to do that again.
The Dallas YMCA employs an aggressive ''in your face'' program to let our volunteers and staff know that we do not tolerate and will prosecute inappropriate behavior. All staff and volunteers must sign a comprehensive Code of Conduct explaining in detail what is and what is not acceptable behavior. A strong supervision system plus parents and children themselves are a part of this safety network.
This last year, in the last 12 months, over 10,000 criminal background checks have been run for our YMCA through the Texas Department of Public Safety program administered by the Greater Dallas Volunteer Center. These background checks are returned within a 7-day turnaround period. However, we only search Statewide records, not national records.
If we were to pay the $18 that the FBI talked about today, I would have to pay for the 10,000 checks that we are doing now, I would have to call up 2,000 families in the next 2 weeks and tell them that the children that we have agreed to sponsor for them to go to summer camp this summer could not go. That would be a tremendous impact on a very important segment of our community.
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Most volunteers and part-time staff complete their assignments at the YMCA within an 8- to 12-week period while they are working with our summer programs or sports leagues. The current national program using fingerprints take usour experience has been up to 12 weeks to complete, and that does not protect our children while those individuals are working with us. We eagerly look forward to a faster system that would allow the YMCA to accept volunteers and coaches with a more reasonable lead time.
Until a national fingerprint system is perfected, we encourage you to allow us to have access to national records using name-based and other relevant data searches as a bridge. It might not be perfect, but it is not the FBI that is going to have to call a parent and tell them that their child has been abused because we were waiting for a system to be perfected.
I bring the endorsement of the 17 million members of the YMCA of the USA for this legislation. Our children are our most precious resource, and we have impressed this on our representative, Congressman Sessions, and have demanded of him that he make certain that we are given the tools to protect them in the best way possible. It is all of our responsibilities to ensure their safety through effective and timely systems.
Thank you very much.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Casey.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Casey follows:]
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPREPARED STATEMENT OF BEN CASEY, PRESIDENT, YMCA OF METROPOLITAN DALLAS, DALLAS, TX
At the Dallas YMCA, the safety and well being of the more than 160,000 children who participate in our programs annually is our highest priority. The success of our programs in providing children with proactive life-changing experiences depends heavily on the over 7,000 talented, dedicated and committed staff and volunteers who work directly with these children every day. To ensure that only respectable adults are in contact with our children, we must screen all individuals working with or around them at the YMCA. We know that pedophiles and others who would take advantage of children are drawn to places where children gather, and we must do everything in our power to avoid misconduct by any individual.
The Dallas YMCA employs an aggressive ''in your face'' program to let our volunteers and staff know that we do not tolerate and will prosecute inappropriate behavior. All staff and volunteers must sign a comprehensive Code of Conduct explaining in detail what is and is not acceptable behavior. Parents and the children themselves are also educated and encouraged to participate in this safety network.
In the past year, over 10,000 criminal background checks have been run for our YMCA through the Texas Department of Public Safety Program administered by the Greater Dallas Volunteer Center. These background checks are returned to us within a 7-day turnaround period. However, we only search statewide records, not national records.
Most volunteers and part-time staff complete their assignments in an 812 week period when they are working with our summer programs and sports leagues. The current national program using fingerprints takes up to 12 weeks to complete and does not protect our children during that time. We eagerly look forward to a faster system that would allow the YMCA to accept volunteers and coaches with a more reasonable lead-time.
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Until a faster national fingerprint system is available, we encourage you to allow us to access national records using name-based and other relevant data searches. Our children are our most precious resource. It is our responsibility to ensure their safety through effective and timely process systems.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Philippus, you are welcome.
STATEMENT OF AL PHILIPPUS, CHIEF OF POLICE, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, POLICE DEPARTMENT
Mr. PHILIPPUS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, members of the committee.
My name is Al Philippus. I am the Chief of Police for the City of San Antonio. I come before you today to voice support for H.R. 3410, the Volunteer Organization Safety Act of 1999 on behalf of volunteer and child mentor organizations that are seeking name-based national criminal background records checks on individuals who have volunteered to serve as mentors for children.
Most people who volunteer to perform mentoring have only the best intentions in mind, but there is always a chance that a sexual predator may volunteer solely to prey upon potential victims. We have experienced this kind of criminal behavior in San Antonio, and we know it is occurring in other parts of the country. This kind of crime is horrifying because a child is hurt, and tragic and sometimes lifelong consequences inflicted on the child are compounded because somebody the child thought they could trust victimized them. Further, the good deeds of the volunteer organization are forgotten because of the twisted and criminal behavior of one person.
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National name-based national criminal background checks serve a crime prevention purpose by denying sexual predators access to children enrolled in mentoring programs. Background checks also put sexual predators on notice that volunteer organizations will not permit themselves to be infiltrated and ruined.
In the United States, people have the freedom to move from one State to another with ease. Many criminals are aware of this and use it to their advantage to avoid detection efforts across State lines. For this reason, background checks for persons volunteering for nonprofit child mentoring and volunteer programs should be done on a national level rather than just on the State or local level.
Due to the prohibitive costs and time delays to nonprofit organizations caused by national criminal background checks sent to the FBI, the San Antonio Police Department and other law enforcement agencies would have the ability to conduct name-based criminal background checks for persons applying for volunteer mentoring duties with nonprofit organizations. Taking this action will reap the following positive consequences: Number one, a reduced workload for the FBI; number two, decreased turnaround time on background checks because they are done locally; number three, decreased cost to nonprofit groups by not requiring fingerprint-based background checks; number four, improved information sharing between the police department and those nonprofit groups especially at the local levels; and, five, most importantly, the ability to capture nationwide criminal history from a potential applicant.
Bear with me just one moment. All persons submitting an application to volunteer as a mentor would be required to sign a waiver allowing the police department to release criminal background information to the nonprofit group. We realize that the name-based criminal information check has an error rate that is a little bit higher than fingerprint-based criminal history information. To combat this higher rate, we propose that applicants be required to produce the following information on the waiver: their full name, date of birth, place of birth, residence telephone number, home address complete with city, State and ZIP code information, driver's license or information card, social security card, height, weight, eye color and hair color. If any match or correlation appears between the information provided by the applicant and a person with a criminal history, this will be reported to the requesting nonprofit organization for additional follow-up.
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We realize that at some time in the future automated fingerprint background checks will be available at a reduced cost and in a more timely fashion than is possible now. We all look forward to that date, but in the meantime we know that we must act now to protect the children and support the work of the nonprofit volunteer organizations. For this reason, we will gladly support this initiative.
We hope to serve as an example of how the FBI, local chambers of commerce, nonprofit organizations and a police department can come together on a multifaceted jurisdictional issue to protect children from danger and maintain the good names of nonprofit organizations. I am confident we are doing the right thing.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you very much, Chief Philippus.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Philippus follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF AL PHILIPPUS, CHIEF OF POLICE, SAN ANTONIO, TX
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, Members of the Committee, my name is Al Philippus and I am Chief of Police for the City of San Antonio. I come before you today to voice support for H.R. 3410 the ''Volunteer Organization Safety Act of 1999'' on behalf of volunteer and child mentor organizations that are seeking name-based national criminal background records checks on individuals who have volunteered to serve as mentors for children.
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Most people who volunteer to perform mentoring have only the best intentions in mind, but there is always a chance that a sexual predator may volunteer solely to prey upon potential victims. We have experienced this kind of criminal behavior in San Antonio and know it has happened throughout the country. This kind of crime is horrifying because a child is hurt and the tragic and sometimes lifelong consequences inflicted on the child are compounded because somebody the child thought they could trust victimized them. Further, the good deeds of the volunteer organization are forgotten because of the twisted and criminal behavior of one person. Name based national criminal background checks serve a crime prevention purpose by denying sexual predators access to children enrolled in mentoring programs. Background checks also put sexual predators on notice that volunteer organizations will not permit themselves to be infiltrated and ruined.
In the United States, people have the freedom to move from one state to another with ease. Many criminals are aware of this and use it to their advantage to avoid detection efforts across state lines. For this reason, background checks for persons volunteering for non-profit child mentoring programs should be done on a national level rather than just on the state or local level.
Due to the prohibitive costs and time delays to non-profit organizations caused by national criminal background checks sent to the FBI, the San Antonio Police Department and other law enforcement agencies will agree to conduct name based criminal background checks of persons applying for volunteer mentoring duties with non-profit organizations. Taking this action will reap the following positive effects: (1) A reduced workload for the Federal Bureau of Investigation; (2) decreased turn around time on background checks because they are done locally; (3) decreased cost to non-profit groups by not requiring fingerprint based background checks; (4) improved information sharing between the Police Department and these non-profit groups especially at the local level; and (5) most importantly capture nationwide criminal information from a potential applicant.
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All persons submitting an application to volunteer as a mentor would be required to sign a waiver allowing the Police Department to release criminal background information to the non-profit group. We realize that the name based criminal information check has an error rate of eleven percent and that the fingerprint based criminal information check has a smaller error rate. To combat this eleven percent error rate we propose that applicants be required to produce the following information on the waiver: their full name, date of birth, place of birth, residence telephone number, home address complete with city, state and zip code information, driver's license or identification card number, social security card, height, weight, eye color, and hair color. If any match or correlation appears between the information provided by the applicant and a person with a criminal history, this will be reported to the requesting non-profit organization.
We realize that at some time in the future, automated fingerprint background checks will be available at a reduced cost and in a more timely fashion than is possible now. We look forward to that day, but in the meantime we know that we must act now to protect children and support the work of non-profit volunteer mentoring programs. For this reason, we will gladly step up and take on this role. We hope to serve as an example of how the Federal Bureau of Investigation, local chambers of commerce, non profit organizations and a police department can come together on a multifaceted, jurisdictional issue to protect children from danger and maintain the good names of non-profit organizations. I am confident that we are doing the right thing.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. I recognize myself for 5 minutes to question.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am curious about some things. Because we have a lot of information. We all want to get to the same end product. We want the YMCA and other non-profits to be able to get these checks, and we want our kids protected, and we want to do it in a cost-effective way. I am curious with regard to the Y right now. There is no check going from you at all through a fingerprint system because of the expense and the time in Texas to Washington. Is that correct? There is no current Y check?
Mr. CASEY. Yes. We are doing all of our checks now on a name base through Statewide checks. It is the time factor.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. How long is that taking in the State now to turn it around?
Mr. CASEY. Within 7 days we have it back. Actually, I guess if we turn it in on Friday we can have it back on Monday, but once a week I think the Volunteer Center sends a courier down to DPS, and then we get it back the next week.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Chief Philippus, are you submitting in the City of San Antonio, not for the Y but for anybody, checks to the FBI right now on fingerprint? Is anybody asking you to do that? Are you doing that?
Mr. LOESCH. Mr. Chairman, we submit ours directly to the State. And any requests, whether it would go directly to the FBI, as Mr. Loesch pointed out, we do not send those directly. We actually go directly through DPS in Austin.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MCCOLLUM. But there are some checks that are not criminal that are going into the State?
Mr. PHILIPPUS. Yes, sir.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. From San Antonio?
Mr. PHILIPPUS. Yes, sir, there are.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Do you have any feel for how long that takes to turn around?
Mr. PHILIPPUS. The numbers I have on the ones that we have been running have been anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Now, you just heard Mr. Loesch say it is now down to 24 hours at the Washington level. I would think that you and I ought to work together to figure out where that is, if other States are having similar problems, how much of that is at the State level. You obviously are not spending the time in San Antonio, I assume, if you got a 7-day turnaround. You don't have a lot of days at San Antonio where it is sitting around, do you?
Mr. LOESCH. No, sir, we do not.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Let us work together. I would like to know the answer to that because, regardless of the cost factor, we have other organizations who are submitting this, and we don't want to see this time lag. That is an absolutely unacceptable time lag. So I will work with you on that.
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Mr. Casey, I think, and Ms. Thomas I should ask you this, too, I assume in the ideal world you would all say today the fingerprint check would be preferable if it weren't for the cost and the time. Is that a fair assessment?
Ms. THOMAS. Yes.
Mr. CASEY. One thing that I think also needs to be pointed out about the fingerprint, my understanding is about a 40 percent return on the illegible fingerprints, so that is also a complicating factor on time.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Now that is what you hear. You haven't experienced it.
Mr. CASEY. I have not experienced that.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Is that, Chief Philippus, what you see?
Mr. PHILIPPUS. No, sir. I have got some pretty good examiners, and we have a pretty sophisticated IAFIS system. And our error rate is obviously much lower than that because, if the print doesn't take, we immediately go back and analyze that and change it immediately.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Okay. I also want to ask you a cost question to both Mr. Casey and Ms. Thomas. You have got 10,000 checks to be made at $18 a piece. Isn't this something you could ask the volunteers to pay, rather than having to lookeach one to pay 18 bucks, and wouldn't most of them readily pay 18 bucks to do this?
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Mr. CASEY. Some that could probably would. You know, I think that we ask a lot of our volunteers already. You know, they give up a lot of personal time. The truth is, we would find the cost. I mean, this is important; and the safety of our kids is our highest priority. It is a shame that that has to be one more thing that they have to give up. I mean, they incur a lot of personal costs already to be volunteers.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. I understand that, and I was thinking the other side of this, though, and I don't know what a NCIC check might be charged, you are probably going to have to pay something for that, too.
Mr. CASEY. We are paying $4 for the name-based check.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. You are paying $4 to the State now, but if we go through a national check, which is what we are talking about today, the FBI is going to charge you something for that, too. There is no current civil system access that I am aware of to the NCIC check for the Federal system. Now I may be wrong about that, but I believe I am right.
Ms. THOMAS. Mr. Chairman, if I might, in Texas, when a State check is run, we call it a TCIC, that is a name-based check. And the Department of Public Safety is prepared to run NCIC checks at the very same time, and in most cases they do. So to get a national check back using a name-based search would cost nothing more than it currently costs to do a TCIC check.
The State of Texas, because it has not been authorized to conduct these name-based checks for noncriminal jurisdictions, has done their programming so that nonprofit organizations do not get the NCIC information. They get only the TCIC information. But it would be a matter of a little bit of computer programming at the State level to get not only TCIC but NCIC records back all at the same time.
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Mr. MCCOLLUM. Your basic argument, and I have heard it today that you would rather have this system and pay the four bucks than the other system that is slower. What I am suggesting is we might give you this option to do if it didn't impose a lot more on the Federal system, and I am not aware where it would or wouldn't. We have tried to get at that with Mr. Loesch today.
But what really bothers me the most about your hearing testimony is not your request, not even your concern over the money, because that is something we should let you decide, probably, but it is a concern over the fact that we have got this time lag so that if you wanted the choice of paying the 18 bucksand hopefully that will come down. You heard me talking to Mr. Loesch. I would think that it would come down from that, that you could get it back in a reasonable time, certainly no greater than the 7 days you are now doing.
It just doesn't make any sense if he can turn around in 24 hours why it should take longer than a total of 7 days for you to do a fingerprint check or, you know, a name check, either one right now. It just doesn't make sense to me. So anyway that is where I see this.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to ask just a couple of questions.
What is a reasonable turnaround time for these checks?
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. THOMAS. The name-based checks that we are currently running?
Mr. SCOTT. Whatever check you can get, what is reasonable?
Ms. THOMAS. Well, we would like 24 hour, we would like two hour turnaround time. We would hope that that at some point would be possible.
The equipment that is used by the FBI to do automated fingerprint checks is so expensive, that is part of the reason that States have not moved more aggressively toward having more automated fingerprint checks. I have been told each computerized machine costs $65,000 at this point, and I would suggest that the cost alone is prohibiting the States from beingyou think about how it rolls out and how there has to be that kind of equipment in each county, each criminal jurisdiction, and then you roll it up toward the State level and you have a very expensive system. So I am assuming that the cost is probably why the name-based or the automated fingerprint checks are not more readily available.
Mr. CASEY. Mr. Scott, if you are askinglet me give you a typical YMCA status. We don't have a soccer team coach and we will recruit a coach and do the training of that coach. We are certain if we can get 7-day turnaround, for us, we usually have those coaches certified in 7 days before the season would start and the children would be with that volunteer. There are times, of course, when something happens to a volunteer and we have to replace them. So what we have to do is put a team on hold and pull them out of the program until we find somebody, get them cleared and then now we can put a volunteer with them. So 7 days works for us, but any more than that is very, very difficult.
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Mr. SCOTT. You heard the FBI say that they can presently do it in Texas in a day.
Mr. CASEY. You have three people who haven't experienced that.
Mr. SCOTT. Did you hear him say that?
Mr. PHILIPPUS. Yes, sir, I sure did.
Mr. SCOTT. Have you talked to him today?
Mr. PHILIPPUS. The first time that I talked to Mr. Loesch was just before the hearing began, sir.
Mr. SCOTT. Are you going to talk to him again? I mean, we heard two different things.
Let me just ask one other question. What is the reaction of your volunteers to a false positive, that is, when your name comes back that they are a criminal, when they are actually not a criminal?
Mr. CASEY. Let me give an example. What we do when we do a checkof course, they have an application and on the application we ask them, one, would they give us permission to do the criminal background check, and we ask them if they have ever been accused of a crime or arrested, do you have any history. If they haven't put that on there and if it comes back, the record shows that, we quietly and confidentially call them in and say there is a discrepancy there. And we ask them, why do you think that is there? And if they say that is not me, then what we do is resubmit it and ask them, you know, so that we can get a double confirmation on it. We are very sensitive to embarrassing somebody over something that might not be accurate.
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Ms. THOMAS. The system in Texas is set upif I could expand on what Ben has said, the system is set up so that if there is a false identification, the agency that has been through the training and knows how to use the system can do a fingerprint check at no cost to the agency to determine what is correct about this volunteer who is saying that wasn't me. So we have a grievance system in place. We have a 17-step system, the final step of which is the name-based criminal background check.
Mr. SCOTT. The name-based, Mr. Philippus, did I understand that just does Texas?
Mr. PHILIPPUS. Yes, sir. We can do name-based within the State of Texas itself and not beyond that.
Mr. SCOTT. Do you feel that that is sufficient?
Mr. PHILIPPUS. No, sir, we do not. We feel very stronglyI mean, just looking at new legislation that was enacted in the State of Texas recently under sexual predators that require sexual offenders to register their locations where they live, we have found that as many as 60 percent are not giving accurate information on just their residence. Police departments have actually had follow-up units just do nothing but verify locations for sexual offenders in the State. So we feel that the national certainly would be key.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you very much.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you, Mr. Scott.
Let me just make an observation, and we will conclude thisjoint observation. I think it is rather paternalistic of us to suggest that you can't have Mr. Sessions' legislation to allow the State and the YMCA to make choices about how you check to find out if somebody's got a history, if that can be done economically. I don't know if there is a hidden cost to the FBI by the added use of the NCIC system. We didn't hear Mr. Loesch say that today, but we certainly are going to explore that. But aside from that potential cost that we don't know about, I see no reason not to pass Mr. Session' bill.
But I just would caution youand I am sure I am not telling you anything you haven't thought throughbut if in fact we arewith this system as good as Loesch says it was today, the first time you have this system in place that Mr. Session' bill would let you have and it misses somebody who abuses a child, somebody's going to be down banging on your door: Why didn't you come and use this fingerprint check?
And so I would just suggest that this is truly temporary, and it may be in the next 2 or 3 days we are going to find out what the problem is with the delay between Chief Philippus's office in the State of Texas and the FBI, and if that delay is something that the State of Texas can remedy, I hope you are going to bang on their door.
Mr. SCOTT. Could I ask a follow-up question on that?
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Certainly.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCOTT. Mr. Casey, Ms. Thomas, are you required to do any background check at all?
Mr. CASEY. Only time we are required to do it is in our child care programs where we have Texas licensed child care.
Mr. SCOTT. Texas State law requires you to do a check?
Mr. CASEY. In child care programs, but we do it on every individual who comes close to a child.
Mr. SCOTT. But you don't have to?
Mr. CASEY. No, we do not have to.
Ms. THOMAS. That is correct for the other youth-serving organizations as well. When there is a license involved and then the State controls who is checked, but there is no requirement as far as general volunteerism is concerned, and the agencies who are doing the criminal background checks at this point are doing so by choice.
Mr. SCOTT. Okay.
Mr. MCCOLLUM. Thank you very much, and I thank all the witnesses. It was a very good hearing.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 3:40 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
(Footnote 1 return)
The FBI's authority to collect and exchange CHRI is generally predicated upon 28 U.S.C. 534, which has been judicially limited to criminal justice purposes; Executive Order 10450 (1953), concerning the backgrounding of federal employees; and Pub. L. 92544 (1972), concerning nonfederal licensing and employment.
(Footnote 2 return)
Lastly, once having obtained sensitive CHRI, it was believed that a law enforcement professional would maintain its confidentiality and, if necessary, verify the subject's identity by the submission of fingerprints.
(Footnote 3 return)
Military Recruiting, Report to the Subcommittee on Personnel, Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, General Accounting Office, National Security and International Affairs Division, No. B20548 (February 23, 1999).
(Footnote 4 return)
It should be noted that an additional 28,399 persons were ''false negatives,'' and were identified as having criminal records only by their fingerprints.
(Footnote 5 return)
Lastly, it is to be remembered that states voluntarily submit their criminal fingerprint cards to the FBI, and many states have laws that prohibit interstate dissemination of their records via III for noncriminal justice purposes. Any use of their records inconsistent with their state laws could erode the cooperative relationship under which criminal fingerprint cards are submitted, thereby undermining the entire system for collecting criminal history records and having those records available for any purpose, including criminal justice and national security purposes.