Israeli experts use AI to solve U.S. background checks backlog

Today, it seems like everyone is talking about background checks.

By
March 28, 2018 09:51
3 minute read.
Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)

 
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Whether it be in reference to gun control or how the US government maintains a year-long backlog of more than 700,000 people it needs to review, the term has become something of a buzzword.

Coming to help with this American backlog is a group of Israeli and US former intelligence agents from Intelligo Group, an Israel-based risk-management start-up.

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“The efficiency of the American government will be solved by an Israeli technology,” said Intelligo CEO and co-founder Shlomo Mirvis.

“They’re talking about spending billions of dollars on background checks. On the federal level, for every government employee, vendor and contractor; on the state level, for every teacher. We can help with that.”

The US National Background Investigations Bureau, the main body performing federal background checks, has an average delay of more than 500 days in granting top secret clearances and a 262-day delay in granting an initial confidential clearance, according to Forbes.

That leads to billions of dollars spent on people on the government's payroll, who cannot begin working until they receive a clearance.
A night drive with Israeli start up Bright Way Vision (Yocheved Lauren Laufer)


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To solve the problem, Intelligo is relying on artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities to quicken the clearance process while providing a much more extensive background check at the same time.

“At Intelligo, you’re combining the strength of the private sector, strength of Israeli intelligence and American intelligence,” said Mirvis. “Our advisory board includes powerhouses of the Intelligence community including the former head of intelligence unit 8200, Pinhas Buchris, and the ex-head of the US National Security Agency, Michael McConnell.”

At the moment, most background checks are conducted manually, with legions of investigators and analysts drafting reports. When a person with limited time must sift through mounds of data, he or she often misses crucial insights. Each report takes a lot of time, sometimes more than a week, which leaves a company holding onto its job offer as candidates hear back from other opportunities.

Currently, companies like Checkr, a San Francisco-based start-up, dominates the industry of basic background checks, vetting potential hires. It’s a semi-automated solution for low-level checks, providing its services for companies like Uber and Walmart.

But for the world of comprehensive background checks for pre-investment due diligence, whether it be a venture capital fund seeking to “know your client” before investing or an intelligence agency recruiting a spy, background checks are arduous and labor intensive.


As an example, Mirvis cited the process of getting a security clearance for the US federal government. It’s the same process as the past 50 years, he claims, with little development in innovation.

Intelligo proposes to upend the model, relying on AI and machine-learning to automate and provide a comprehensive check that looks at thousands of web sources. The reports not only include low-level aggregate and proprietary data but also scans blacklists, watch lists, politically-exposed persons, legal and corporate records, as well as social media.

That can significantly cut back on the time necessary to conduct a check, with Intelligo issuing reports in a matter of minutes.

The firm then extracts the most pressing information and presents it in a clean web panel – a contrast to a bygone typed-up report – with the option for companies to continuously monitor subjects after the initial due diligence period has ended.

Mirvis added that his firm can offer prices at half the industry standard, primarily because it automates operations otherwise conducted by humans. That could let small and medium-sized businesses run comprehensive checks that had been otherwise out of reach.

Aside from interest in the public sector, Intelligo’s clients include the largest investment banks in the world, hedge funds, and major multinational corporations.

Earlier in March, Intelligo began actively selling its product, named the Clarity platform, launching into the market and out of its beta phase.

“We’re the only technology company to hit the comprehensive background check world. That really is huge. We’re not going into a market that’s already over-commoditized with 300 tech companies,” said Mirvis.

The firm was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in Petah Tikva with offices in New York. To date, the company has raised $6.8 million.

Investors and advisory board members include Eileen Murray, the co-CEO of Bridgewater Associates, along with executives from Goldman Sachs.

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