News of private contractors’ involvement like truck stop chili – it keeps coming back up

By Mark H. Reddig
Associate Editor

The issue of private contractors handling truckers’ information as part of TSA’s hazmat background checks caused controversy from the moment the agency first revealed their involvement.

In February, Land Line reported that TSA had hired a Nashville, TN, firm – Integrated Biometric Technologies – as its preferred private contractor to collect truckers’ fingerprints and personal information. States, which are responsible for the collection, could either choose the Nashville firm or collect the information and prints themselves. Thirty-four states chose to use the company.

Then, the Nashville firm revealed it had hired a number of subcontractors, which most in the trucking industry did not know was an option. One of the subcontractors, the firm said, is US Investigations Services, the parent company of DAC, a company that has long been a target of truck drivers’ distrust over its handling of their employment records.

Not long afterward, Land Line learned that instead of using state employees, some states that were not using the Nashville firm had plans to hire other private businesses to gather drivers’ fingerprints – businesses neither approved by TSA nor bound by its privacy requirements.

In Illinois, one of those companies was described by a Chicago newspaper as having a “history of alleged negligence and bribe-taking.” 

The news that states could use other contractors came despite a statement in TSA’s final rulemaking issued Jan. 13, which said the agency “required states to choose” between only two options: “(1) The state collects and transmits the fingerprints and applicant information of individuals who apply for or renew an HME; or (2) the state allows an entity approved by TSA (TSA agent) to collect and transmit the fingerprints and applicant information of such individuals.”

That rulemaking also stated “TSA will perform all of the threat assessment functions.” 

Despite that, Computer Services Corp. of El Segundo, CA, announced that it had been hired by TSA to provide some of the “threat assessment functions.” The company’s announcement included another revelation: that the firm would itself use a subcontractor, Trinity Technology Group Inc. of Fairfax, VA, to help provide some of the workers who will help with the background checks.