Thu Jan 23, 2014, 07:31 PM
Purveyor (28,428 posts)
Security Firm Sued by U.S. Over Bad Background Checks
United States Investigations Services LLC, whose background checks helped National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis get security clearances, was accused of fraud by the government in a whistle-blower lawsuit.
The U.S. joined the case in October and filed its complaint yesterday, accusing the company of breaking its contract with the U.S. by failing to provide adequate background checks in at least 665,000 instances. The government claims mirror those of the whistle-blower in the case made public last year.
The case doesn’t involve the background investigations of either Snowden or Alexis, a Justice Department official who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the case previously said. The two aren’t mentioned in the government’s complaint in federal court in Montgomery, Alabama.
USIS management, beginning at least in March 2008, started “dumping” or “flushing” cases to boost profit and revenue, which involved releasing the investigations to the government for payment and saying they were complete when they hadn’t received quality reviews as required by the contract, the U.S. said in the complaint, which cites internal company e-mails. A USIS employee said in one of the e-mails, “Shelves are as clean as they could get. Flushed everything like a dead goldfish.”
Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-23/security-firm-sued-by-u-s-over-bad-background-checks.html
3 replies, 1097 views
Security Firm Sued by U.S. Over Bad Background Checks (Original post)
|flt rsk||Jan 2014||#2|
Response to Purveyor (Original post)
Thu Jan 23, 2014, 08:13 PM
LiberalArkie (9,453 posts)
1. Clinton downsizing the civil service and privatizing their workload
The company, originally known as U.S. Investigations Services Inc., traces its roots to the Federal Investigations Division of the personnel office. The unit was privatized in 1996 as part of then-Vice President Al Gore’s effort to “reinvent” government by reducing the size of the civil service, according to a 2011 report by the Congressional Research Service.
Contracting out security reviews was designed to save the government money and offer new work for about 700 investigators no longer needed because of a declining clearance workload as the Cold War ended. Instead, demand for security clearances surged after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The number of people with security clearances ballooned to about 5 million in 2012, and contract investigators have struggled to keep up with the demand for background checks, according to security specialists.
Response to LiberalArkie (Reply #1)
Fri Jan 24, 2014, 05:29 AM
davidpdx (21,982 posts)
3. Interesting background history and that it is tied to Clinton and Gore
Had terrorism not become a huge issue, I'm not sure it would have mattered much. With all the background checks and no oversight, people were obviously doing things they shouldn't.
Response to Purveyor (Original post)
Thu Jan 23, 2014, 10:23 PM
flt rsk (41 posts)
2. I worked for the Defense Security Service (DSS)
before it was taken over by the Office of Personal Management (OPM). The management team from OPM, for the most part, came from USIS. Prior to USIS they had been OPM. They made clear from the start that they did not know what they were doing when it came to background checks for access to classified information. They were only interested in fast case closures and the money from fee for service investigations. We were referred to as the “cash cow”. They then went on to explain that the money they got from government agencies was not appropriated money and they did not have to justify its expenditure to Congress. We would get new computers and cars every two or three years. They closed field offices and required the agents to work from home. This pretty much eliminated someone calling or walking in to report a security issue. They also wanted us to list our home phone numbers on our business cards. Those of us with field experience refused to do so. I did not want my wife getting calls in the middle of the night from a disgruntled former Army officer because he had been discharged with loss of benefits because of sexual harassment, or theft, or espionage, or the entire gambit of criminal activities and amoral actions that causes one to lose ones clearance. One agent even received a Christmas card from someone that he had helped to put in prison. The card came to the office.
Rumors floated that former USIS were bragging about the stock they owned in USIS and how they would be rich when the background investigations were given over entirely to USIS.
DSS personnel were generally older, experienced people. Many had military intelligence and/or counterintelligence experience. Others were from law enforcement or may have had a background in dealing with certain national or ethnic groups. Life experience was valued. I found that people with food service or retail sales experience were the best people able to elicit information from people. OPM and USIS tend to hire young, fresh out of college, people with very little experience with life and the realities of greed, graft, crime, and corruption they would face.
No matter what one’s experience might be, DSS required that all agents be trained in dealing with the various types and personalities of the people they would encounter in their jobs. There was an intensive three-week school with hired actors playing various roles of the public that an agent would run across. They also received on-the-job training from experienced field agents. It would take six months to a year to put a DSS agent on the street to work cases without supervision. OPM gave new hires and us two weeks training on their DOS computer system. I understand that it may involve more training at this time. DSS agents attempting to ask questions about why a certain policy was followed were told, “because that’s the way it is”. One agent noted that a certain OPM policy was contrary to federal investigation regulations was told to shut up, follow orders, or find a new job. Attempts to suggest faster and less expensive methods were similarly shouted down. The requestor of the investigation, for each interview, record review, or law check they performed, pays OPM/USIS a set fee. The ways of DSS may have been more efficient but not profitable in the eyes of OPM management.
Snowden is an amateur and Alexis is disturbed. Red lights would have gone off on Snowden and medical records of Alexis would have been reviewed. How many professionals got past and are still getting past OPM/USIS. DSS did not stop everyone that wanted access to information but they certainly slowed them down. DSS was the big brother that military personnel, military contractors, and even civilian personnel could approach and report derogatory information, possible terrorist activity, or just amoral activities of people that might conflict with their ability to handle classified information or cause them to be susceptible to blackmail.
DSS was originally the Defense Information Service (DIS). In the book “Little Nikita” the Russian agent, on his way to the US, was warned to be careful of the FBI and DIS. OPM/USIS is a gift to the countries whose interests are inimical to our safety and freedom.