National Sex Offender Registry: New Hire Data Has Potential for Updating Addresses of Convicted Sex Offenders

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In the 1990s, several heinous crimes put the issue of the sexual abuse of children onto the nation's policy agenda. Sexual crimes against children and adults are often perpetrated by individuals known to their victims and these crimes devastate families and communities. To safeguard children and their families, Congress enacted a series of laws between 1994 and 2003 that required sex offenders to register their addresses with law enforcement agencies. The laws also required that states, in order to be eligible to receive certain federal funds, ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. July 31, 2006.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In the 1990s, several heinous crimes put the issue of the sexual abuse of children onto the nation's policy agenda. Sexual crimes against children and adults are often perpetrated by individuals known to their victims and these crimes devastate families and communities. To safeguard children and their families, Congress enacted a series of laws between 1994 and 2003 that required sex offenders to register their addresses with law enforcement agencies. The laws also required that states, in order to be eligible to receive certain federal funds, establish sex offender registries, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) establish a national sex offender registry. The National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) is maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) within DOJ. It is a nationwide database compiled from information in individual state sex offender registries and it currently lists over 400,000 convicted sex offenders. The system requires convicted sex offenders to register with law enforcement agencies upon release from prison and to update their address information whenever they move or change addresses. Law enforcement agencies rely on information in sex offender registries to track the location and movement of convicted sex offenders; however, GAO and others have raised concerns about the accuracy of the information contained in the registries because many offenders fail to update their address information as required. To help track the location of sex offenders, law enforcement officials have turned to other sources of information, such as state departments of motor vehicles and commercial databases. Previous GAO work suggests that the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) has been useful for the purposes of verifying eligibility for federal benefit programs and collecting debt owed to the federal government, and is a timely source of information. The NDNH is a database maintained by the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The NDNH is a repository of approximately 1.35 billion individual employment, unemployment insurance, and wage data records from state directories of new hires, state workforce agencies, and federal agencies. It contains information for most of the nation's workforce, including both residential and employer addresses, and is updated at least quarterly. The NDNH is used primarily to assist state child support agencies in locating parents and enforcing child support orders. Currently, DOJ has access to NDNH information for cases involving the abduction of a child or for enforcing child custody determinations. A memorandum of understanding between HHS and DOJ governs the data exchange between OCSE and DOJ, and is required for all agencies that have access to NDNH data. In order to determine the feasibility of updating information in sex offender registries with information contained in the NDNH, we examined: (1) whether there is the potential to help law enforcement agencies locate convicted sex offenders by using information contained in the NDNH and approaches that could be taken for doing so, and (2) the potential advantages and limitations associated with these approaches."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • July 31, 2006

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. National Sex Offender Registry: New Hire Data Has Potential for Updating Addresses of Convicted Sex Offenders, report, July 31, 2006; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc298668/: accessed June 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.