in Uncategorized

A 90s Vetting Flashback

It seems like vetting is in the news constantly these days – principally around the Trump administration’s reported failure to vet their appointees, staffers, and others. It’s a subject that we’re obviously keenly interested in, as many of our customers leverage Vigilant’s search technology to support their vetting and due diligence processes.

Vetting has been around for quite awhile though, and in general it’s been pretty standard practice. That said, it’s pretty fascinating to see how it’s evolved. Embedded below is a memo we found on vetting advice from Phil Kuntz, a former Wall St. Journal reporter now with Bloomberg.

It’s a stark reminder of how much has changed in terms of baseline expectations (“You also should search the internet. If you don’t have it, you should first demand it from your employer”). AutoTrak, the “nuclear weapon of all people-finding” described, would ultimately get purchased and became Thomson’s CLEAR product. The Center For Responsive Politics (OpenSecrets) was hard at work, and dial-up databases were starting to be a thing that folks used. The memo recommend calling up the House and Senate Public records offices, and FARA for lobbying records (all now easily searchable online), and calling state lobbying and campaign finance offices – likewise almost all searchable online today (or searchable all at once via Vigilant!). In fact, in large part we’re still looking at a lot of the same records we were 20 years ago. But when it comes to how we access and search them, it’s a pretty stark reminder of how far public access to public data has come. Take a look: