An Office of Inspector General report from June 2017 -- obtained by the Times in a public records request -- said that between February 2016 and March 2017, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services didn't access an Federal Bureau of Investigation crime database called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System because an employee was unable to log into the system.
The final report issued in June 2017 states that an employee in the Division of Licensing did not run applications through the national system because she couldn't log into the database.
The previously-undisclosed IG report noted that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System - a nationwide database that cross-references applicants' records in other states - is "extremely important" because it ensures that people applying for concealed carry permits are legally qualified to own concealed weapons.
The state ultimately revoked 291 permits and fired an employee blamed for the lapse after an inspector general's report detailing the problem was sent in June 2017 to top officials in the department who oversee the program.
Today, the Tampa Bay Times published a report titled "Adam Putnam's office stopped concealed weapons background checks for a year because it couldn't log in".
"I called for this investigation", Putnam said Saturday.
Any of those searches might find information that would disqualify a person from receiving a concealed weapons permit, Putnam said.
The Times' report also accuses the Bartow Republican of hiding the snafu for almost a year.
The department employee failed to make follow-up inquiries into 365 applicants who were flagged for noncriminal reasons during three background checks over the year-long period. Now, he said, there are more "eyeballs" making sure the work is complete and a "more seamless technology transfer" of the NICS background check results.
Rather than attempt to fix the problem, the employee was said to have "purposely failed to perform essential job duties", with an internal investigation concluding she was "negligent".
"The former employee was both deceitful and negligent, and we immediately launched an investigation and implemented safeguards to ensure this never happens again", Putnam said in a statement. Putnam's office has since revoked those permits, he said.
The employee told investigators she "dropped the ball".
USA congressman Ron DeSantis, also a Republican candidate for governor, criticized Putnam on Saturday for the background checks problem, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Putnam asserted that "no one's safety was at risk" because those 291 people would not have been able to purchase a firearm.
Notably, the employee in question, Lisa Wilde, reported the problem to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on April 7, 2016-some 40 days after she was first unable to log in.
Since 2003, Florida has housed concealed weapons permitting under the Department of Agriculture. "I initiated the inspector general and the review of processes and procedures upon learning of this breakdown".
"I didn't understand why I was put in charge of it", Wilde told the newspaper. These revocations could be due to mitigating factors such as drug usage, mental illness, and more non-criminal disqualifications for a concealed carry.
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