If you’re a Government Contractor chances are you’ve heard a thing or two about the E-Verify Program. For many of our clients, this system is among one of the very first they are introduced to upon GSA Schedule contract award. Utilized by over 230,000 employers, the E-Verify Program is an online system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) dedicated to helping employers validate whether their employees are authorized to work in the United States. With the end goal of creating a more “reliable and legal workforce” the program has been criticized by many as unreliable due to its limitations in recognizing many forms of identity fraud. In fact, according to a recent study by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the system exhibited an inaccuracy rate of 54 percent for unauthorized workers – evidence that half the time the system was unable to detect identity theft.
To combat these issues and strengthen the verification process, DHS has expanded the system’s photo screening tool which enables photos to be directly crossed checked against photos contained in government databases. According to USCIS, the photo tool has “vetted over 300,000 photos with employers and detected more than 1,000 instances of fraudulent immigration documents.” In November of last year, DHS announced it would further enhance the program’s capabilities by linking it to the State Department’s passport database, allowing the system to scan passport photos to determine if it matches the State Department’s records. In addition to exploring the use of biometrics and enhancing fraud-detection algorithms, the USCIS outlined several initiatives during the system’s program evaluation last year that would directly address identity fraud:
- Strengthening program monitoring and compliance by expanding the number of behaviors monitored for misuse and the amount of compliance assistance provided to employers and creating mechanisms for locking Social Security Numbers detected in possible identity fraud;
- Instituting a Data Analytics System to automate the analysis of E-Verify transaction data and serve as a force multiplier for program Monitoring and Compliance efforts; and
- Deploying a self-check function to allow citizens and noncitizens to check their E-Verify response before being hired, which could also allow individuals to lock and unlock their SSNs for E-Verify purposes.
As a final note, DHS is committed to improving the program and has contracted with independent organizations for further study. Initiatives are in place to contract with Westat, who conducted the program evaluation mentioned earlier, for two more years of targeted evaluations.
To review the major findings of the E-Verify Program Evaluation, please visit the Westat Report and related files webpage.
For a description of E-Verify program improvements over time, please see the E-Verify History and Milestones webpage.