Social Security, Verify Thyself! The IG Inspects the E-Verifiers

By David North on March 7, 2010

The Social Security Administration, along with the Department of Homeland Security, operates the E-Verify screening program to identify potential illegal alien workers.

But, according to the SSA's own Inspector General, in a recent report the SSA, as a large employer, did not fully use the E-Verify system to screen it own employees.

The federal government encourages all employers to use the system, and insists on it for some of its contractors, but apparently the HR types in SSA did not get the message.

E-Verify allows an employer who has hired a person to check that person's identity against the vast data bases of SSA and DHS; it routinely tells the employer quickly whether or not the information it has on a worker meshes with the government's data. In about one case in 25 E-Verify finds a non-match, and then it is up to the workers to try to set matters straight – or else abandon the effort because of non-legal status.

For an overall review of the utility of E-Verify, see Mark Krikorian's recent blog, "The E-Verify Glass Is Half Full."

The SSA hires lots of people, and in FYs 2008 and 2009 it brought on board 9,311 of them. In 19 percent of the cases (1,767) it failed to use E-Verify to check on them.

Of the 1,767, the IG found on a later review, 44 of them received a notice of tentative non-confirmation (TNC). Of these 44, in 39 cases the system found "their citizenship status indicated that they may not have been eligible to work in the United States." There were other and different match problems for the other five, some or all of which might not have indicated they were illegal workers – such as non-notification of a name change.

In addition to hiring 44 workers that, at the very least, needed more screening, the SSA also ran 169 people through the E-Verify system who did not appear to be current SSA workers; an employer, governmental or not, is not supposed to do this. You are only supposed to use E-Verify on people you have already hired – why you cannot do this before you hire someone is a puzzle to me, probably another instance of a super-cautious government.

The IG did not study the full set of 169 cases, but in those reviewed he found that 31 were volunteers (the government has volunteer workers?) and 18 others were job candidates who apparently were not hired.

While the threat of illegal aliens getting hired by the Social Security Administration seems pretty remote, the agency's Commissioner must not have enjoyed the report.