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Online background checks

The state of Nebraska now has an online criminal background check system.

Want to know whether your babysitter got busted for child abuse? Whether police pinched a would-be employee for dealing meth? Or maybe you just want to dig up some dirt on your daughter’s new boyfriend.

Before, you had to pay $15 to do a criminal background check, but starting Monday $18 allows you to do it online and, in most cases, get feedback almost instantly instead of waiting a week.

Gov. Dave Heineman and Nebraska State Patrol Col. David Sankey unveiled the state’s new online criminal background check system. Pop in a name, a date of birth and your credit card info and you can get the skinny on someone.

“We live in an electronic age. We need to provide these services online to be relevant,” Heineman said.

The State Patrol turned around more than 33,000 criminal background checks last year that came via fax or mail, Heineman said, and the governor said he expected that number to jump now that it’s easier to access the service.

State Patrol employees fulfilled those requests in seven to 10 days on average, Sankey said. Now people who request reports can get them instantly if whoever they're researching has no criminal background, like 75 percent of those checked. If someone does have a history, a State Patrol employee still has to investigate, but Heineman said he expected the new system to speed up those requests, too.

Cornhusker Bank outsourced background checks on its 22 hires last year to a third parties, but it already is seeing the effects of the online service, said Sherla Post, the bank’s senior vice president of human resources.

The cost of doing a background check has dropped, something Post said she attributes to the vendor trying to stay competitive.

But a criminal background check is only a part of what vendors inspect, Post said. They also verify employment history, certifications and degrees, check out attendance at school, and make sure prospects have clean driving records.

“Efficiency-wise, it’s much better,” she said.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln also uses a vendor to sniff around all potential hires, whether they’re administrators, student workers or staff, university spokesman Steve Smith said.

Heineman said moving the background checks  was  just the most recent example of the state shifting its business online, and he vowed to continue the trend. The days of Nebraskans trotting down to city hall or the county courthouse are virtually over.

“We’re gonna push and continue to push more and more services online,” he said.

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Reach Jonathan Edwards at 402-473-7395 or jedwards@journalstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/LJSedwards.

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