CARSON CITY -- Secretary of State Ross Miller wants the state, and all companies in Nevada, to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure they hire only workers who are in the country legally.
Miller on Tuesday asked the state Board of Examiners to require private contractors hired by the state to make sure their workers are documented through E-Verify. The state does not have the authority to force companies to use the system.
Each month the Board of Examiners approves about 100 contracts with companies that do everything from janitorial work to carrying out studies for the state. Miller serves on the board with Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Gov. Jim Gibbons.
Miller said 1,400 private companies in Nevada use E-Verify out of about 300,000 that are registered through his office.
"That's a drop in the bucket," Miller said. "Under federal law, they are required to hire only documented workers, and E-Verify is the only way to make sure they do. "
Under the E-Verify system, information placed by applicants on required I-9 hiring forms is compared with federal records to determine whether the employees can work in the United States.
"It's good for business and good for Nevada," Miller said.
Miller asked Masto to determine whether requiring contractors with the state to use E-Verify is legal and appropriate. If she gives the go-ahead, he wants a rule mandating E-Verify approved by the board in January.
The Review-Journal has been using the E-Verify system for more than a year.
Also Tuesday, Miller questioned state Budget Director Andrew Clinger about a legislative audit that last week determined contract workers have been abusing the state.
State Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said some of the irregularities uncovered by the audit showed "criminal activity" and turned the audit over to the attorney general's office for possible prosecution.
The audit reviewed contracts of 250 former and current state workers who received contracts with the state worth $11.2 million in 2008 and 2009.
In one case, a contract employee billed for 25 hours in a day, and in another, the contract workers was paid $350 per hour.
Clinger told Miller he is setting up a task force with state agency directors and will take steps to oversee state contracts more closely.