The Clinton Administration is pressing ahead with a plan to transform background investigations of many Government employees into a profit-making business run by a newly created private company, despite protests from some members of Congress, Cabinet officials and investigators worried about confidentiality and security lapses.The new company, which the New York Times was referring to, is called U.S. Investigations Services [USIS].
And now USIS has been accused of "defrauding the country of millions of dollars by methodically filing more than 660,000 flawed background investigations—40% of the cases it sent to the government over a four-year period," the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
Moreover, the Wall Street Journal noted that, "USIS conducted what federal officials say was a faulty 2011 background investigation of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked classified documents on the government's surveillance programs to the international media. The company also conducted a 2007 security examination of Aaron Alexis, the defense contractor who died last September after killing 12 people in a shooting spree at the Washington Navy Yard."
U.S. attorneys accused USIS of using its close ties with the federal government to conceal the so-called practice of flushing background checks—sending the government cases that didn't have proper review..."Among those millions of people who were given access to classified programs was none other than Edward Snowden.
The company handles about 45% of federal background checks, which are used by the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security and more than 100 other federal agencies. The government uses the USIS background investigations to determine whether or not to give millions of people access to classified programs and buildings.
Over the past decade, USIS has been awarded more than $4 billion in federal contracts...The New York Times reported on Wednesday:
The whistleblowers' lawsuit was filed by Blake Percival, a longtime employee at the company who served six months as director of fieldwork services until he left in June 2011.
In his lawsuit, Mr. Percival accused USIS of rushing improperly reviewed background check cases through the system and hiding the practice from the federal Office of Personnel Management, which oversees most such investigations. In all, the agency oversees 2.2 million background investigations a year...
The Justice Department had signaled last year it would join Mr. Percival's lawsuit and outlined its case in the filing Wednesday.
In the complaint, federal prosecutors said that top USIS officials used what it called the firm's fraudulent scheme to secure nearly $12 million in bonuses from the federal government, which thought the company was completing thorough background checks.
In an effort to meet internal revenue goals set by a former company president in 2008, USIS created a special software program called "Blue Zone" that allowed it to send cases to the federal government even if they hadn't gone through a thorough review process as required by its contract, the complaint said.
Between March 2008 and September 2012, USIS "dumped" at least 665,000 cases in a process that was the subject of jokes shared by company officials, the complaint said. USIS declined to comment on the specifics of the complaint...
The 2007 background report done by USIS on Mr. Alexis showed that investigators learned he had been arrested three years earlier in Seattle, but the report did not include the crucial information that he had shot the tires of a construction worker’s car in what he told the police was an anger-fueled blackout.Bloomberg News noted last year:
Mr. Alexis was given a secret security clearance in 2008, which was still valid on Sept. 16 when he stalked and killed a dozen victims at the navy yard with a sawed-off shotgun before the police killed him. Investigators relied on an interview with Mr. Alexis, who claimed he had only deflated the construction worker’s tires, Merton W. Miller, an associate director for investigations in the personnel office, said in a statement.
In the 1990s, then-Vice President Al Gore led a program to reinvent government that included handing work to private businesses. One legacy: a company that an investigator said may have botched the background check of fired national security worker Edward Snowden.The New York Times article from July of 1996 - which I cited earlier - reported:
The firm, USIS, was created in 1996 when the government agency responsible for vetting personnel was spun off to the private sector. USIS is accused of a “systemic failure to adequately conduct investigations,” according to Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat.
The revelation that Snowden disclosed two classified U.S. surveillance programs after being vetted by USIS may have damaged the company’s reputation...
Under the [Clinton & Gore] plan..., about 40 percent of security and other background checks on Government employees and job applicants will be taken over by an employee-owned, profit-seeking company [USIS]...Hello Edward Snowden!
Critics worry that the plan could leave many Government agencies relying on an untested new company that may not have full access to law enforcement records.
Moreover, the critics said, it could place sensitive records about Government employees and job applicants in the hands of a business venture, raising concerns about the privacy of personal information when the [Clinton/Gore] White House itself has been found lax, at a minimum, in its handling of confidential background files. The Administration has been besieged in the last several weeks with questions about how it came to have F.B.I. files on prominent Republicans, among other people...
Senator Simon [of Illinois, a Democrat] and Representative Thomas M. Davis 3d, a Virginia Republican, have introduced legislation to delay the plan for two years to provide more time to study its implications. But they acknowledged that the bill has almost no chance of passing before the plan takes effect...
The proposal grew out of the Administration's efforts, overseen by Vice President Al Gore, to pare hundreds of thousands of Federal jobs by finding innovative and more efficient ways to run the Government...
Linda L. Robertson, an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury..., said that links between the personnel office's database and the Pentagon's investigative database could create "potential national security problems with contractors having access to this information."
Hello Aaron Alexis!
Hello Bill Clinton! And Hello Al Gore!