CHENANGO COUNTY – A resolution that would allow the Chenango County Department of Social Services to purchase software capable of gathering information from applicants’ public online accounts, including social media, failed to pass at a county Board of Supervisors meeting this week because of questionable ethical conflicts.
The resolution would allow Chenango County DSS to enter a licensing agreement with the tech company LexisNexis, a provider of legal, government, business and high-tech information software. The program, named Accurint, would assist various departments of DSS in the evaluation of assets and liabilities of clients by searching online public record information, including criminal databases, real property tax records, and DMV records. Moreover, it could be used to conduct background checks of potential DSS employees through the same process.
According to DSS Commissioner Bette Osborne, the software would be a valuable tool because it’s capable of doing what the department currently lacks the time and manpower of doing. It would help detect welfare fraud and determine eligibility of public assistance recipients; and could also be used to prevent the department from hiring a bad employee, she said.