If one doesn’t get you, then the other one will – unless you screen candidates for employment and also check on independent contractors before they can access sites or data.

For candidates for employment, there is not a single “right” way to screen, according to James MacKenzie of ChoicePoint, Alpharetta, Ga. “In many cases, employment screening is valued differently, depending on the varying levels of employees that comprise an organization. For instance, in the retail industry sometimes minimal screening such as a Social Security number verification or a theft database search is the only background screening performed on entry-level employees.

“But, when screening senior-level executives, more extensive due diligence may be performed, which could include education and employment verifications, both local and national criminal background checks, as well as a credit check and any pertinent license verification,” added MacKenzie.

Cascade the search

One way to cover all the bases is a “tiered screening” program. Background checks are processed in a cascading or “tiered” order using the least expensive, quickest elements first.

Explained MacKenzie, “Each step of the background check is processed only after successful completion of the previous stage. At any stage, if the results do not meet the organization’s internal hiring guidelines, the process can immediately terminated without ordering the remaining searches.”

For many enterprise security executives, another valid approach is to use pre-determined background screening “packages” that vary depending on the job position. The depth of screening could be based on the responsibilities of the employee, or a perceived level of risk associated with the position.

There are other screening needs to consider. Many organizations need a screening program that can provide seamless integration into their existing hiring process, using tools and legacy systems that are currently in use. The best bottom line: a program that meshes with your internal policies, your technological capabilities and your customer support requirements.

Complementary programs, such as Drug-Free Workplace plans, are yet another consideration. Similar to the development of a background-screening program, the same principles apply when creating an effective drug-screening program.

There’s yet another side to screening.

Contractors and vendors are capitalizing on the flexibility craze at rapid rates. Business for temporary staffing firms is booming. Even a new term, IPro, has emerged to describe independent professionals who work from home and are happy and productive. But that ever-revolving door of unknown contractors, consultants and flex-workers may be slipping through the security cracks.

Don’t forget non-employees

Screening full-time employees, but failing to vet temporary workers, contractors, consultants and vendors is like locking the front door and leaving the back door open, contended Tal Moise, CEO of Verified Person, New York. “Assuming that contractors and staffing agencies have screened their employees can lead to costly lawsuits. Their employees can quickly become your problem.”

When Verified Person ran an audit for a financial services company that was experiencing increased thefts, they found the of the 217 contractors working as janitors, 12 had been convicted of felonies, nine of them thefts.

It’s time for companies to usher in the next generation of background screening to keep pace with the new world of independent contractors, temp workers, flex workers, outsourcing and consultants, concluded Moise.

Dangers exist

According to Tal Moise, CEO of Verified Person, New York, a Nokesville, Va. woman had her Social Security number stolen from the billing department at a county hospital by a temporary worker, who had recently been released from prison. The woman filed over $60 million in lawsuits. The temp provider allegedly said it only researches criminal records upon the client’s request.

Last year, federal agents arrested 27 illegal immigrants who were working for an outsourced repair vendor whose customers have included some U.S. commercial passenger and cargo airlines.

Temporary workers were recently indicted for allegedly bilking the American Red Cross out of thousands of Katrina dollars at a California call center.