The federal contractor sued by the Justice Department for failing to adequately conduct government security clearances—including NSA leaker Edward Snowden—is processing sensitive immigration applications for the Obama administration.
This astounding information comes from a high-ranking government source with detailed knowledge of the arrangement. Though it’s being investigated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for fraud, United States Investigations Services (USIS), has been taking over a lot of administrative processing of immigration benefit applications, the inside source told Judicial Watch. The scandal-plagued company is also handling sensitive immigration files, despite its well-documented transgressions.
It’s preposterous that a company under fraud investigation is still allowed to handle sensitive government applications, JW’s source logically points out. Here’s how it happens; Most of USIS’s executives are retired officials who worked for the influential Senior Executive Service at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency that operates and oversees nearly every government activity in dozens of federal agencies. Their connections help them land federal contracts, JW’s source says, and once they land the lucrative deals they convince the government to let them do their own quality assurance so they cut corners.
The serious corner cutting came to light after Snowden, a National Security Administration contractor, divulged thousands of classified documents to the media. USIS, which handles the bulk of background checks for government security clearances, had conducted Snowden’s background check as well as the clearance for Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis. Since the two breaches occurred, former USIS employees have come forward accusing the company of unrealistic deadlines and workloads, dumping cases and producing incomplete background checks to meet revenue goals.
As part of its fraud probe of USIS, which is based in Falls Church, Virginia, the DOJ filed a lawsuit in federal court earlier this year accusing the contractor of failing to adequately conduct security checks in 40% of the cases it handled for the government. USIS submitted at least 665,000 incomplete background checks to OPM, the agency that officially contracts firms to do government work, the complaint says. It further alleges that USIS dumped and flushed cases, falsely representing them as completed, to maximize the company’s revenues and profits.
Months before it filed the complaint, the DOJ announced that it had launched an investigation of USIS, which the agency revealed had been contracted by the U.S. government since 1996 to perform background investigations on individuals seeking employment with various federal agencies. In the announcement a high-ranking federal prosecutor said USIS’s shortcuts would not be tolerated and that the DOJ would take action against those who charge taxpayers for services they failed to provide, “services that could place our country’s security at risk.”
The top federal prosecutor in the Alabama district where the DOJ filed the USIS lawsuit added that “the increase in foreign and domestic terrorism places an increased responsibility on our government to ensure that unsuitable individuals are prohibited from government employment.” That means thorough, appropriate and accurate background checks are essential in the employment of government personnel, the assistant U.S. Attorney said. It appears from the written announcement that the feds get it, but their actions (letting a tainted company handle sensitive immigration files) tell a different story.