Thursday, August 6, 2009

How Could the City not Know Buie was convicted of federal bank fraud in 1994?

This is what I know so far...

In 2007 the city hired Slavin Management Consultants of Atlanta to find qualified applicants for Buie's position. Here's their website: http://www.slavinweb.com.

Slavin has an excellent national reputation for recruiting for government positions. Their client list according to the web includes:

Ann Arbor, Michigan
Atlanta, Georgia
Auburn, Maine
Aurora, Colorado
Berkeley, California
Beverly Hills, California
Beaver Creek, Ohio
Birmngham-Jefferson County, Alabama
Boca Raton, Florida
Broward County, Florida
Charlotte, North Carolina
Cincinnati, OH
Clark County, Nevada
Clearwater, Florida
Columbia, Missouri
Dallas ISD (Texas)
Dothan, Alabama
Dubuque, Iowa
Durham, NC
Duluth, Georgia
Edmund, Oklahoma
Elgin, Illinois
Florida Association of Counties
Fresno Economic Development Commission
Fulton County, Georgia
Hall County, Georgia
Highland Park, Illinois
Hollywood, Florida
Honolulu Public Transit Authority
Independence, Missouri
International City/County Management Assn.
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Lake County, Illinois
Lakewood, Ohio
LaPlata County, Colorado
Lee County, Florida
Los Angeles County, California
Mendocino County, California
Montgomery County, Maryland
Miami, Florida
Miami Valley Regional Transit Authority (OH)
Norfolk, Virginia
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Olathe, Kansas
Phoenix, Arizona
Prince William County, Virginia
Peoria County, Illinois
Pueblo, Colorado
Richmond, California
Roanoke, Virginia
San Jose, California
Shaker Heights, Ohio
SW Florida Regional Planning Council
Takoma Park, Maryland
Volusia County, Florida
West Des Moines, Iowa
West Hollywood, California
Wichita, Kansas

Part of Slavin's recruitment process is to conduct criminal background checks. According to their website, this is part of Slavin's screening process:

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D. Selection and Employment
In-depth Screening and Final Report... At this point, we will interview those semifinalist candidates whom the client representatives have the greatest interest in. Proper "fit" is as important as technical ability. We assess both. In order to better assess candidates' management style and interpersonal characteristics, we personally interview each in his or her present work location. We will closely examine each candidate's experience, qualifications, achievements, management style and interpersonal skills in view of the selection criteria and our professional expertise in evaluating the quality of such qualifications, skills and achievements.

We conduct in-depth background checks on those individuals who continue to demonstrate their overall suitability for the position. Included are detailed and extensive reference checks which cover a minimum period of ten years. In conducting these, it is our practice to speak directly to individuals who are now or have been in positions to evaluate the candidate's job performance. We ask each candidate to provide us with a large number of references. We then network these references to other persons who know the candidate. In this way, we thoroughly evaluate each candidate. These references and evaluations are combined to provide frank and objective appraisals of the top candidates.

As part of our evaluation process we conduct criminal history, civil court records, driving record and credit checks and we verify undergraduate and graduate college degrees. At the client's option we can arrange for assessment centers and/or psychological (or similar) testing of the candidates. (These optional items will result in extra cost.)

We will then meet with the client to present a group of well-qualified finalist candidates for interviews. These final candidates will not be ranked because, at this point, they will all be qualified and it will then be a matter of chemistry between the candidates and the client that should produce the final selection decision.

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It is my understanding that Slavin outsourced the background search to another specialty firm. I do not have that name of that firm readily available. It is my understanding that a seven year credit and criminal check was performed. Obviously, since it was performed in 2007, it would not catch a 1994 conviction. Our outside employment attorney has informed me that the seven year search is the norm. He said you can spend several thousand dollars to try to go back further, but no results are guaranteed. He says not all convictions are reported to the reporting agencies. There has been improvement recently, but there are still large gaps in the reporting.

I have a call into Slavin to see exactly what went wrong with the background check, and to see what could have been done differently. It is possible that a refund of the search fee would be appropriate, but I have not yet heard Slavin's side of the story, and I am not sure if they did anything outside the norm.

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