ASIS 2006 Conference

ASIS 2006 Conference


Another great trade show. 34,000 attendees reported. While the exhibits at ASIS are more hardware than services, the employment screening industry was again well represented, with 18 Retail BI companies, 4companies offering databases (crim, address and other), one drug testing, one pre-employment assessments company and one MIA. This year more than before, the portion of companies with CEOs/owners in attendance seemed to be higher. The trade show is, of course, about interacting with existing clients and meeting prospects,but it is also very much about interacting with the other exhibitors to do a little corporate intelligence and to share information and talk about industry problems.

We spent two full days on the exhibit floor and did manage to meet with everyone, but it took the full two days.Usually, I do this show myself, but this year I had the pleasure of being accompanied by two of our key people,Don Berg and Asysha Hogan. Don, after 2¾ years with me, has become extremely knowledgeable in the court systems and supports our Better Vendor Program; Asysha Hogan, 4 months with BCG is our Strategic Accounts Exec. While Asysha has had experience working in our industry, this was her first major trade show and she justfit right in making a lot of industry acquaintances who commented back to me about how nice she is (“nice” counts for a whole lot at BCG).

People News

Bruce Bishop has moved from FADV to Accurate Background Inc.

Vince Pascarella, who moved from HRPlus to ESR, has moved on to Frasco.

Bill Reddock, plus 5 people from Rapsheets (including Camille Gambel , Robert May, Barry Oltremart, and Doug Young), moved to Verified Person (where Tal Moise and Salek Brodsky recently left).

Jennifer Wood has left ChoicePoint.

Myron Blackmon-new COO at FADV.

Company News

Verified Person. While they seem to have a great concept for direct/immediate access to scrape-able courtrecords and for building a daily updated National Criminal File, the top execs are gone and people with more industry experience have moved in. Their goal is to fix the weaknesses in the current system and to bring forth anew company image and marketing plan.

Locate Plus. This competitor to Accurint had a booth, but it was not manned at 45 minutes after the Monday morning opening of the exhibit. We did get a chance to meet with them on Tuesday afternoon. Not sure what the problem was on Monday, but that was an “ouch.”

Sterling InfoSystems (f/k/a Sterling Testing Systems). Continuing their fast growth and promoting their CourtDirect product where they have automated the electronic communication direct with hundreds of courts. It was interesting that when I talked about this with other major competitors many claimed to be doing similar things.For example, BIG said they started doing this with some courts three years ago. What are you doing? Several who weren’t doing anything like this asked the key recurring question, “Do you think this will make it harder for the smaller company to compete?” The answer is, well, yes, of course. Let’s face it, to quote Gary Hanley at USAFact, “we all go to the same 11,000 sources for the same data; what’s important is how accurately  and quickly we get it back to the customer. ”Would your client prefer to get instant results vs. a 2-day TAT? Of course.

Hilson Research. This pre-employment Assessment Company, which has done ASIS and SHRM for years, has totally updated their capability so all their tests are doable on the web and will give instant answers. Looks like Robin Inwald is re-invigorating her business, which she kind of let lay fallow for a few years.

GIS.  The key word here is Pangea  for their beginning-to-end seamless components from starting the applicant search through the ATS to the background check to feeding the payroll system. With FADV, InfoMart and others following this same strategy, do we see background checking companies morphing their systems into a comprehensive HRIS? With much of the software included at no cost, will this put HRIS software sellers out of business? Will it freeze out the small to mid-size competitors from the volume accounts?

Applicant Insight. CEO Bon Idziak said his deal with a major trucking risk manager is ending. Something about them deciding to vertically integrate the BI functions directly. All good things do come to an end, I guess. Bon says they have done several different deals that will more than offset this change.

Accurate Backgrounds.  I must say, who decided on the celery color shirts? Actually, they came off very nicely.

OpenOnline had a booth space, but were a no-show. What’s up with that?

USIS. Was it all rumors or is there any veracity that the US government, who created USIS when they spun off USIS from OPM, is considering bringing the function back in house? Or are they just finally coming to the realization that with the progress in the industry, there are much less expensive methods of doing the BI other than feet on the street?

FADV Rumor has it that their background checking operations are now back in good operating mode.

Verifications, Inc. What are they doing so right? I heard their sales were going to be $70MM this year, up over $20MM. Wow! The “second tier” companies are quickly becoming the “first tier.” With FADV, CPS, USIS growing only a few million organically in BIs annually, they are missing out on the huge growth being experienced by VI, Sterling, GIS, A-Check, Single Source Services(Jax) and HireRight.

Product News

Much talk of a “media check.” What is this? You have heard about doing a google search and a search of personal websites like, and These would be part of a media search, as would a search of Lexis Nexis and similar news databases. Much can be found about a person on these sites and they can be pretty revealing. The challenge is in the depth and breadth of the search and the labor cost to sift through the false positives and verify the results. Some companies are selling these at up to $500 per. What are you doing? How this fits with the FCRA and adverse action notification will need to be resolved.

Direct access to courts – Electronic scraping of data off court websites not only can give you a fast county crim check, it can pull all new data into your database to create a “National” file. Lastly it gives you the opportunity to offer your client a regular (daily?) check in all or specified courts to see if a client’s existing employee was arrested yesterday. This is a great new revenue source billed by capitation or per hit.

Speaking of customer service, how about the company that conducts twice a week web education sessions for their customers, teaching them not only how to use their web ordering system, but educating them on everything related. Intellisearch reports they are doing this.

Pricing. As at every show, we hear that the pricing continues to be beaten down on large bids. The scuttlebutt was FADV just won a large bid deal but dropped their price well under $5.00 for a county crim. Of course, we all know they can still make good % margins at this price, but the dollar margins are definitely impacted. Is it worth it at this level? Several companies believe it is.

National Databases. The debate continues. Most companies are offering one of the National Database searches,however some still are not. They have done such a good job up to now of selling the weaknesses of these databases, they still have not seen the light or are reluctant to go back to their clients and educate them on the value. Then there is the question of how do you as a CRA handle the results of a National Database search. Do you just give it to your client as is, even with the false positives? Do you strip out all the records not confirmed based on DOB or some other criteria? Do you advise your client that if they intend to use the unverified data to make an adverse decision that they SHOULD get an up to date record from the jurisdiction revealed in the database search? Or do you as a CRA go through the entire list of positives and verify them all that they are, in fact, the subject. And, how about those states that don’t let you report more than 7 years? Do you redact that data if your client is in that state or do you pass it on to your customer? What is your liability in each methodology? Have you thought this through? Lots of different ways to handle, but you are missing the boat if you are not offering this search.

Red light-Green light. Are you offering to make the go or no-go decision for your client? Lots of companies are doing this. Of course, the customer must define the parameters, but they really like the uniformity of sticking to corporate universal decision criteria.

Bruce Berg