How many people using false identities have been employed by the Defense Department? Are some illegal aliens?
As of now, the government does not have definitive answers to these questions.
Unfortunately, they need to be asked because, on March 29, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Social Security Administration published an audit report revealing that Defense, plus the Coast Guard (which is a component of the Department of Homeland Security), filed nearly 6,400 W-2 forms between 1997 and 2002 that could not be matched to known taxpayers and thus had to be dumped into what SSA calls the Earnings Suspense File (ESF).
Sixty-four percent of the bad W-2 forms discovered by the auditors were for military employees on active duty or in reserve status. The other 36 percent were for civilian employees.
Although the report did not address the immigration status of the Defense employees for whom the bad W-2s were filed, the SSA has earlier indicated that the hiring of illegal aliens is the primary reason employers in the private sector file W-2s that cannot be matched to a known worker.
To be sure, the audit discovered that some of the bad DOD W-2s could be attributed to innocuous causes, including typos and data-entry mistakes. "However," the report said, "it is also possible that individuals employed at the DOD components were not using their own SSN and, as a result, these components may have employed individuals whose true identity cannot be verified/confirmed by the SSN they are using."
For example, 3,585 DOD W-2s bore valid SSNs but different names than those to which the SSNs had been issued. The auditors examined a sample of 60 of these. On six, it appeared the person on the W-2 had changed his or her name and failed to notify SSA. On 10, it appeared there were "typographical or formatting errors." But on the remaining 44, said the report, "the first and last names reported by the DOD components were completely different from the names associated with the SSNs shown in SSA records. ... We believe these wage items need further investigation to determine if the wage earners deliberately used SSNs that belong to others or whether these were simply reporting errors."
Another 832 W-2s had "invalid SSNs" never issued by SSA. Among these, 344 "were reported with numbers that resemble an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) ... a 9-digit number that begins with a ?9' and is issued by the IRS to non-citizens who need tax identification numbers for tax purposes and who otherwise do not meet the requirements for being assigned an SSN."