GAO says employment verification system is improving

The Department of Homeland Security has significantly improved the accuracy and efficiency of the electronic system used to check if workers are eligible for employment, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

Nextgov reports the GAO found U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services bureau was able to boost the E-Verify system's accuracy by increasing the number of databases it consults when checking whether a new hire is eligible to work in the U.S. USCIS also implemented several new quality control procedures.

"While ... [GAO] acknowledges some areas for refinement, such as guarding against identity theft, the report reaffirms what we already know about E-Verify: It is a very successful program," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said in a statement.

The committee is planning to examine how the program can be improved and possible expanded at February hearing. About 243,000 employees currently make use of the program, including all federal contractors.

97.5 percent of all new hires checked during fiscal 2009 were confirmed as eligible to work in the U.S., while another 0.3 percent successfully contested after they were initially returned as "tentatively nonconfirmed."

The American Civil Liberties Union has been extremely critical of the E-Verify program, arguing any margin of error, no matter how small, still amounts to an unfair blacklist for employers.