Ancestry.com workers caught tossing thousands of records being archived for the U.S. government.

Ancestry.com workers caught tossing thousands of records being archived for the U.S. government.

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How frightening is the thought that anyone would throw out thousands of records they were supposed to digitize and archive for the government?  This nightmare is reality, as several Ancestry.com workers were caught tossing thousands of records being archived for the U.S. government.

 

Documents.
Ancestry.com workers were caught tossing thousands of records.

Ancestry.com has performed monumental tasks like digitization and indexing of numerous historical records in cooperation with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

An Ancestry.com employee working at the federal records center was laid-off for allegedly throwing out draft-card information, according to a federal administrator.

The project currently being affected was to scan millions of draft records and it has been reported that all the papers were recovered. It appears that one worker made the quota by throwing files into the nearest garbage can. The incident has prompted the office to halt contract work at several sites. This same worker had previously been warned about poor productivity.

Ancestry.com staff was also caught destroying thousands of records last year at the same location. When the previous records center building was being closed in 2011, documents were discovered in posts, and hidden in the floors and shelves.

Ancestry.com did not lose its contract. Instead, two workers were sentenced. Others were given the opportunity to resign instead of face prosecution for their actions.

The company itself is implicated in rather questionable actions. Although Ancestry.com is not the true owner of the documents and information, it has placed U.S. government records behind paywalls. Ancestry.com claims it had experienced serious security issues, so the action was taken to prevent the private information of the recently-deceased from being exploited by identity thieves. What Ancestry.com did not say in their public statements is that law-makers’ pressure had already forced the redaction of social insurance numbers, making this move unnecessary. In light of this, requiring payment for access to the records was a profitable consequence of its earlier careless exposure of private, identifying information.

Where is the oversight?

Private firms frequently perform services for the U.S. government for a much lower cost than if the government had performed the tasks in house. This is fine, but these private companies should be accountable for the quantity and quality of their work, ensuring they meet all government and legal restrictions.


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