Reducing or Eliminating Duplicate Background Check Screenings Through Rap Back

Section 6201(a)(3)(B) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires States to “describe and test methods that reduce duplicative fingerprinting” as part of their background check program, and that the methods are to include a fingerprint-based State “rap back” capability. This NBCP resource document describes how a grantee State agency can implement statewide rap back to reduce duplicative fingerprinting, and at the same time, improve monitoring of the eligibility status of previously screened workers. For general information about fingerprinting and rap back, see the Additional Resources section at the end of this document.

What screening process does rap back address?
How does rap back work?
What are the State “best practices” to leverage rap back?
What benefits have States achieved through rap back?
Are there any limitations on or costs for rap back?
Additional Resources

What screening process does rap back address?

Rap back offers grantee State agencies the opportunity to develop an NBCP-compliant program that greatly reduces the need for repeated fingerprinting of previously screened workers. In the past, three factors caused repeated background checks to be required:

Factor 1: A background check is a snapshot. New and potentially disqualifying events can happen and be posted at any time. Often re-fingerprinting a worker was the only way to generate an up-to-date criminal history report.

Factor 2: Unless an applicant discloses the information, no prospective employer can know about any earlier screening. Generally, a criminal history report (CHR) requested by one employer could not be shared with another. Thus, every new employer was required to request and pay for a new fingerprint-based CHR.

Factor 3: Turnover is high within the long term care (LTC) industry. As far back as the mid- 1970s, studies have documented average turnover rates for registered nurses (RNs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and certified nurse aides (CNAs) ranging between 55% and 75%. Rates have remained high throughout the decades, often exceeding 100% for CNAs, the most common type of caregiver in nursing homes [1]. With the constant influx of new hires to maintain staffing levels, previously screened workers changing jobs are required to be re-fingerprinted.

How does rap back work?

Many State Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) agencies have a rap back capability at the State level. In rap back, an organization is notified when a criminal event is reported for an individual that the organization is interested in hiring. In most cases, rap back can be implemented only when an applicant’s fingerprints have been submitted and retained by the State CJIS [2]. Any rules and requirements for using rap back in a State’s LTC background screening program need to be coordinated and authorized by the State CJIS agency.

The major aspects of rap back for the grantee State agency include:

  • Subscribing: The interested organization (typically the grantee State agency) and the State CJIS agree that applicant fingerprints will be retained, along with information about which events will trigger a notification to the requester and for what period of time.
  • Monitoring: As the State CJIS agency receives a new CHR, it compares the fingerprints that accompany the CHR with the subscribed fingerprints already on file.
  • Providing Criminal Event Notification: When the State CJIS agency monitoring process detects matching fingerprints and the new CHR is an authorized trigger, the agency sends a notification to the requestor. The contents of the notification will vary based on the rules established with the State CJIS agency (SCA).
  • Unsubscribing: When the grantee State agency (or other requestor) no longer has an authorized interest in the individual (i.e., when it is clear that the individual is no longer employed in LTC), the agency notifies the State CJIS agency to deactivate the subscription for that individual.

A note on Federal Rap Back: In September 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced the availability of a Federal Rap Back capability [3]. Grantee State agencies should check with their State CJIS agency to see whether and when they plan to make Federal Rap Back available.

What are the State “best practices” to leverage rap back?

Rap back (State or Federal or both) is a very useful process that enables States to address one or more of the factors causing re-fingerprinting and can reduce repeated fingerprint-based background checks while increasing awareness of potentially disqualifying events. NBCP States that have leveraged the advantages of rap back have structured their LTC worker screening programs with many or all of the following characteristics:

  • All applicants are immediately and automatically subscribed/enrolled in the State rap back program at the time fingerprints are first submitted. This subscription/enrollment is processed by the State CJIS.
  • The grantee State agency is the recipient of the initial CHR for every applicant. In “open record” States, the State CJIS agency may forward some or all of the State CHR to the prospective employer.
  • The grantee State agency has the responsibility to issue a statewide eligibility decision for every new applicant.
  • The grantee State agency is the recipient of all subsequent new CHR notifications sent by the State CJIS under rap back.
  • All LTC employers in the State program are required to give a prompt notification to the grantee State agency of every applicant hired and separated.
  • The re-fingerprinting interval is extended for existing LTC employees who have been fingerprinted and subscribed under rap back. Typical extended intervals in NBCP States are between three and six years.
  • Within the re-fingerprinting interval, an applicant who is currently “eligible” may be hired by any LTC employer without re-fingerprinting.

What benefits have States achieved through rap back?

States that have implemented rap back have achieved the following:

  • Continuous assessment of worker eligibility: Most States require that if an individual engages in activity that is disqualifying, even after being determined “eligible,” the eligibility is no longer valid. Rap back enables States to implement this provision without relying on voluntary disclosure by the individual. NBCP States with long-standing rap back programs receive rap back notifications for about 1 percent of the eligible workforce, with 13–30 percent of those notifications resulting in loss of eligibility.
  • Extension of the period between fingerprinting: Before rap back, some States required that all employees be re-fingerprinted and checked periodically to verify that they did not have new disqualifying information. Implementing rap back allows a State to extend or even eliminate the re-fingerprinting requirement for current eligible LTC employees.
  • Elimination of re-fingerprinting when an eligible worker changes employment or takes a second job: Because of rap back, the grantee State agency can maintain workers’ eligibility status across their employment by various facilities and providers. A new employer can add the worker to its roster (and the previous employer can remove the worker) without requiring new fingerprints to be collected and processed.

Are there any limitations on or costs for rap back?

There are some limitations and fees involved with participation in rap back:

  • State rap back works when a subscribed LTC worker has a disqualifying event in the same State in which they are employed. There is no way for a grantee State agency to be notified if a current eligible employee is the subject of a subsequent criminal event in another State using State rap back only. Federal Rap Back [3] is now available; State LTC agencies should contact their State CJIS agency to determine availability in their respective State.
  • Many State CJIS agencies charge the LTC State agency for subscribing to rap back. State LTC agencies should contact their State CJIS agency to get information about State rap back fees. There will be additional fees for Federal Rap Back; the FBI has published an interim fee structure [4]. Rap back fees typically are paid per set of fingerprints subscribed.
  • For data privacy reasons, the grantee State agency or other requestor must notify the State CJIS agency when a worker is no longer employed and the agency thus has no further immediate interest in the individual. This requires facilities and providers to maintain employee rosters that are available to the State LTC agency.
  • Finally, the State CJIS agency may limit the types of criminal events that trigger a notification. For example, some State CJIS agencies may send a notification only when a conviction event occurs. Conviction data is often incomplete and slow to be updated in State criminal history databases.


Additional Resources

  1. American Health Care Association 2012 Staffing Report. A staffing survey that examines staff turnover, retention, and vacancy rates in skilled nursing centers. Available at:
  2. State Rap Back Implementation. This NBCP resource document provides a detailed description of the State rap back process from the State agency perspective. Available at:
  3. Next Generation Identification Program (NGI) Rap Back Service. The purpose of this document is to provide a roadmap of required polices and operations to the SIBs, Federal Submitting Agencies, and authorized contractors who may choose to participate in FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) Rap Back Service. The goal is to describe how the service will be implemented for the Subscribing Entities, the Submitting Entities, and the FBI CJIS Division so that each potential Submitting Entity can understand their roles and responsibilities and make an informed decision regarding participation for themselves and their subordinate Subscribing Entities. Available at:

    This document refers to non-criminal justice use of NGI’s Rap Back Service. Additional information on approved Privacy Risk Mitigation Strategies, designed to protect the privacy of subscribed persons and to ensure the integrity of the NGI Rap Back data and Service, is available in Appendix 1.

  4. FBI Rap Back Interim Fee Schedule. In July 2013, the FBI issued a letter to State Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) systems officers (CSOs) and State Identification Bureau (SIB) representatives regarding the interim fee schedule for the Next Generation Identification (NGI) Rap Back Program. Because the Rap Back Program is a new service, the FBI CJIS Division does not yet have sufficient data to establish a fee schedule based on actual historical costs. Accordingly, the FBI CJIS Division has devised a schedule based on the closest existing fee class that will serve as an interim fee schedule until such time that a fee schedule, based upon actual cost data, can be developed. Available at: Interim Fee Schedule for the NGI Rap Back Program