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BOSTON (AP) — The state agency that issues professional licenses for about 150 occupations from opticians to plumbers has for years been unable to determine whether its boards and commissions performed the required criminal and sex offender background checks before issuing licenses, the state auditor's office said Wednesday.

The audit found that from July 2017 through March 2020, there was no evidence that the Division of Professional Licensure conducted criminal record checks for 67% of applicants granted licenses, according to the audit.

Also, there was no information that the agency had performed sex offender background checks on 42% of applicants.

A criminal or sex offender record doesn’t necessarily preclude an applicant from getting a license.

“DPL’s failure to ensure criminal background checks were being conducted by its boards and commissions is a glaring failure in administration, one which the agency has now acknowledged," Auditor Suzanne Bump said in a statement. “Now that DPL is in the process of an organizational overhaul, the time is ripe to address deficiencies in the licensure and background check process.”

The Division of Professional Licensure said in its response to the audit that it has taken several corrective measures, including hiring a lawyer to oversee a unit that handles criminal record and sex offender record checks.

DPL is responsible for oversight of 28 boards of registration, as well as the Office of Public Safety and Inspections and the Office of Private Occupational School Education, and licenses and regulates more than 580,000 people, businesses, and schools.

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