Albany Contractor Outsourced the Scanning of Several Million New Yorkers’ Fingerprints and Signatures to India

Fingerprints on authentic fingerprint form.
Off to India. Photo: Hans Laubel

You think you’ve got the right guy for the job and then he turns around and ships a bunch of delicate personal information to an outsourcing firm in India. In 2008, New York State’s lease on an Albany warehouse that housed millions of people’s fingerprints, social security numbers, signatures, and other personal information was ending. Focused Technologies Imaging Services of Menands, New York, won a $3.45 million contract to digitize the 22 million criminal-justice records that were stored there. But the company found a cheap and easy way to get a bulk of the work done: A third of it went to a company in India that did the job for just $82,000.

This might be merely a little cheat, but Focused Technologies won the “preferred source” contract because the majority of people it employs are disabled. Catherine Leahy Scott, the state inspector general, said in a statement on Thursday that the company had “entered into a covert and unauthorized outsourcing that swelled its profits while disregarding its commitment to employ individuals with disabilities, as required by its contract.” In doing so, she says, the privacy of around 16 million people was compromised as none of the state’s precautions regarding sensitive records were taken. The company in India is complying with an investigation and says that it has destroyed all of the records that were scanned.

It does not appear that any of the personal information was leaked from the outsourced company. Still, Focused Technologies will pay $3.1 million in fines for defrauding the state, and will also pay for an independent monitor to make sure that it stays in line over the next five years. The company has acknowledged that sending the information to India was a “mistake” and insists that it hasn’t done so before.

Contractor Sent NY State Records to India