Audit Report: DOE-OIG-20-38

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April 28, 2020

The Child Development Center at Argonne National Laboratory

The Department of Energy contracts with Chicago Argonne, LLC for the management and operation of the Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne).  As the management and operating contractor, UChicago Argonne, LLC contracted with Bright Horizons Children’s Centers, LLC (Bright Horizons) for the operation of the Argonne Child Development Center located at Argonne.  The Argonne Child Development Center provides childcare services and educational development to children of the employees and contractors of Argonne, the Department of Energy, and the University of Chicago.

Bright Horizons is expected to adhere to all applicable laws and regulations, such as the Crime Control Act of 1990 (Crime Control Act), and the requirements set forth in its contract with UChicago Argonne, LLC.  The Crime Control Act requires every childcare facility operated by, or under contract with, the Federal Government to ensure that all existing and newly-hired employees undergo criminal background checks.

We initiated this audit to determine whether the Argonne Child Development Center was managed in accordance with the Crime Control Act of 1990 and the requirements of UChicago Argonne, LLC’s contract with Bright Horizons.  We found that although the Argonne Child Development Center had conducted background checks on all 23 of its employees, these background checks were not conducted in accordance with the Crime Control Act of 1990 or UChicago Argonne, LLC’s contract with Bright Horizons.  Specifically, we identified that fingerprint checks, credit checks, and driving records checks had not been conducted on any of the 23 Argonne Child Development Center employees.  Further, we found that checks for potential child abuse and neglect were not conducted for 21 employees.

These issues occurred because of confusion as to whether the Argonne Child Development Center was exempt from certain background check requirements and the applicability of contract requirements to employee job descriptions.  Our review of training records noted that all 23 Argonne Child Development Center employees met the required 15 hours of annual training.  Argonne officials informed us that as a result of our audit, fingerprint-based background checks, as well as child abuse and neglect checks, were performed on the employees onboard as of

May 2019 and no issues were found.  However, Argonne officials noted that these checks were not conducted on employees that had left the Argonne Child Development Center by May 2019. Management concurred with our findings and recommendations and indicated that corrective actions have been taken to address our recommendations.

Topic: Management and Administration