CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A contractor hired to process state background checks is improving turnaround times and customer service, but problems still exist that some believe can only be fixed with legislation.
Lawmakers heard complaints about the contractor, MorphoTrust, at a January interim committee meeting.
Employers sometimes had to wait three or four months before receiving results of background checks for potential employees. Parents wanting to adopt or foster children experienced similar delays.
Businesses were billed multiple times for the same background checks while others received statements meant for other businesses. MorphoTrust also did not cash checks on a regular basis, causing bookkeeping headaches.
Members of the Legislature's Select Committee on PEIA, Seniors and Long Term Care were not pleased, and vowed to keep a close eye on the company over the next few months.
According to a report released last month from the company, MorphoTrust is quickly making improvements.
The company shortened customers' average wait time for results from six days to four days, as of January.
The company also shortened the average time before fingerprints were submitted to the West Virginia State Police from about 30 hours in 2012, to just three hours in January.
By the end of January, MorphoTrust had increased its locations in West Virginia from 12 to 15. The company intends to have 18 locations in the state by the end of March, according to the report.
The company said those locations now will remain open during lunch hours, and MorphoTrust has fixed its online scheduling website so the hours posted are accurate. It also ordered 10 additional fingerprint-scanning systems to reduce downtime caused by technological failures.
Scott Boileau, executive director of the Alliance for Children, Inc., said the company is making improvements but still has work to do.
"Are things better than they were in January? Yes. Are we out of the woods? No," he said. "It's clearly moving in the right direction. That doesn't mean everything is fixed yet."
Last Friday, Boileau said some customers showed up at a MorphoTrust location in Keyser to get their fingerprints taken, only to find the company had moved out of the space.
Boileau called the company, and representatives were able to fix the problem, redirect the customers to its new location and schedule them for a new appointment.
"We're seeing improvements, and they're trying to be responsive. When we send them a complaint they try to deal with it as quickly as possible," he said.
Following complaints of slow response times for customer service issues, MorphoTrust created dedicated email address and hotline for technology questions.
The company also has created a new reporting system to make sure agencies receive correct billing statements and checks processed on time. According to its February report, the company had about 1,000 un-cashed checks in its files before instituting the system, totaling around $80,000.
Boileau said even if MorphoTrust was running like clockwork, it wouldn't be enough to fix problems with the state's background check system.