walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

How Rotten Is Our Credentialing System?

We rely on our credentialing system every day. We assume the nurse at the doctor's office has the training and license that is required by law for that job. If we are hiring for a position, and we look up a company's website, call a number on that website to verify employment for a person who says they worked there, we assume that the company is real and the person we are talking to is telling us the truth. If someone applying for a job has educational credentials from a country we are not familiar with, and a certificate from our government authenticating that educational credential, we assume that the person has the degree and the school is real and competent.

What if that stops working?

The Washington Navy Yard shooting exposed one problematic credentialing system: a contracting firm hired to keep track of pesky little things like people with security clearances that maybe shouldn't have them any more wasn't really doing its job.

This was in the Boston Globe recently:


"A Globe review of the documents in the initial 13 cases found common patterns. For example, four filed forms indicating they had licenses from Hawaii, all supposedly signed recently by the same person — a person who, Massachusetts officials later learned, had retired five years earlier. Three claimed to have Oklahoma licenses, each purportedly signed by “Kimberly Glazier”; Oklahoma officials told Massachusetts investigators that Kimberly Glazier does not sign verification forms."

There is now a massive review going on across the state.

It is a global problem, as this NYT article describes:


I started to notice it after a friend told me she knew of places that claimed to get you any job you want: they fake up diplomas from other countries, create websites of fake companies, staff phone lines to supply references and confirm employment and coach customers how to apply for the Position They Desire successfully. This was told in the context of The Squish getting gunshy about applicants from one particular country, because they always look good on paper but then can't actually do the job they are hired for.

If you think that INS would catch this, well, INS may be concerned that they aren't catching it. From the NYT article above: "But the proliferation of Internet-based degree schemes has raised concerns about their possible use in immigration fraud".

When a job requires a certain amount of training, and the pool of qualified applicants has been largely worked over, a would-be employer can either offer more money to attract people who already have jobs, or they can attempt to expand the pool of applicants. A variety of tech companies have been working the latter approach for a long while now. Perhaps more importantly, so have hospitals and nursing homes. What happens when we run out of people with the right training _globally_ to do a job? Especially, what happens when employers decline to hired the truly trained and skilled, in favor of those whose credentials are not what they seem?

The experience with VW (it's cheaper to lie, than to implement) suggests that we had probably better be diligent about enforcement, if we want our regulatory scheme of credentialing to continue to be useful in the future.

ETA: Speaking of catching people in lies, and promises being broken, Bloomberg has a great long piece about bullshit web traffic, the advertising model of the web, etc.:

Tags: economy, politics
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