“Officially Mandated” vs. “Public Record” Checks

With background screening, a common inquiry is that, “I need a National Background Check,” so “How much will it Cost?” A similar phrased question is, “I need a nationwide criminal check, as quickly as possible, so can you do that for me?” Within Pennsylvania, you may have heard discussion about needing an Act 33 Child Abuse clearance or an Act 34 Criminal Record search, through the Pennsylvania State Police. Other questions have to do with requirements that may include fingerprinting too!

If we dissect these inquiries and identify the real need for the Client, or Student, or Volunteer, one must take the opportunity to convey the differences between the varieties of tasks outlined in these very basic questions above. We need to identify what tasks must be done, where to conduct those tasks, and also, we need to identify those tasks that YOU should do, for the most comprehensive result. Combined, all the completed tasks give you assured confidence to make a decision!

In most circumstances, there are public records that we may need to query for the validation process, locally and/or nationwide, as compared to “officially sanctioned research” tasks demanded by federal law, or state law, which we may describe as tasks that are “statutorily mandated” background screening inquiries.

An Employer, a School District, a Church, or any job placement that requires certain types of screening tasks, separate a national “database search of public records” versus an “officially maintained database” search of criminal records, for example, like the law enforcement database maintained at the Central Repository of the Pennsylvania State Police.

A background report that requires certain “Official,” or “Mandated” inquiries, also means understanding “How” and “What” data points may appear and get into that “official database” report, once a result is received from a given agency. 

So, to meet Act 34 compliance, one will need an “official” result from the Pennsylvania State Police. The PSP database is predicated on confirmed criminal record and conviction entries, whereby fingerprints were submitted by the arresting police or police agency, in most instances. A PSP report without adverse or disqualifying information is the result most firms, or a given agency, or volunteer organization, will need to have to help make you a successful candidate, at least with the initial background screening phase of the hiring process.

Official court records, on the other hand, are maintained by the designated State agency or by personnel at a given County jurisdiction. Generally, all types of Civil and Criminal court records are public records and are available to the public for review and photocopying, representing the validation process and these official files are the genuine proof conveyed in a specific report.  Many of the initial background screening tools executed are a comprehensive search of public records, to validate the purported facts and information provided by the Subject of the inquiry, for employment, for placement, or to be considered as an Intern at college, for example.

In summary, it is usual and customary to have our firm issue a final report that includes “official” results from mandated sources, results from available public records, along with information obtained from non-public sources, all of which are the multiple background screening tasks authorized with a properly signed Authorization for Release Form, from the subject.