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Government sues company that handled Snowden vetting

By Pete Yost

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 05:11 a.m. HST, Oct 31, 2013

WASHINGTON » The Justice Department is stepping into a lawsuit against the company that handled background checks of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis.

The lawsuit alleges that the company, United States Investigations Services, engaged in a practice known at the company as "dumping" — failing to perform quality-control reviews on background investigations as a contractor for the White House Office of Personnel Management.

USIS dominates the background check industry, taking in $195 million in government payments last year for handling more than 45 percent of the government's background checks.

A whistle-blower who is a former employee of USIS is suing the company on behalf of the government, and the Justice Department is joining the case.

USIS was involved in a background investigation of Snowden in 2011 and one of Alexis in 2007, but those particular jobs don't figure in the lawsuit. OPM says it believes that the file on Alexis was complete and in compliance with all investigative standards.

"The behavior by a small number of employees alleged in the complaint is completely inconsistent with our company values, culture and tradition of outstanding service to our government customers," the company said in a statement. USIS "has taken these allegations seriously since they were first brought to our attention."

The lawsuit was filed in July 2011 by whistle-blower Blake Percival. He charged that in an effort to meet revenue targets and maximize profits, USIS used a proprietary computer software program that automatically released background investigations to OPM that had not gone through the full review process. The lawsuit says the alleged "dumping" process was spearheaded by the vice president of field operations at USIS and by the company's director of production control.

OPM had turned to private security screeners in the late 1990s because of growing backlogs that were snarling the government's hiring process.

Under its contract with the government, USIS is required to conduct fieldwork on prospective applicants seeking federal employment, and trained reviewers from USIS are required to ensure conformity to OPM standards.

USIS is based in Falls Church, Va. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Montgomery, Ala.

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serious wrote:
They should also sue the Democratic Party for nominating Obama. Sure he was elected--twice--by the welfare community---"don't take my free crap away".
on October 30,2013 | 01:11PM
HD36 wrote:
Our only hope is that the economy collapses on Obama's watch so that the next election won't go to democrats. If it doesn't the majority of Amricans will be dependent on government in 2016 and we'll keep down the same path of a slow economic death by zero interest rates forever and capital destruction.
on October 30,2013 | 04:51PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
They should also be going after Booz Allen Hamilton for having sloppy data handling practices...
on October 30,2013 | 01:21PM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
That is completely and patently untrue. living, don't post unless you know actual facts.
on October 30,2013 | 01:31PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Did not the SA report that Booz Allen Hamilton provided access to data that he downloaded into a thumb drive?? There are ways to provide access to only view and not download data. Given the supposed sensitive nature of the data, any competent data manager would have deployed a system that prevents this - after all, its not rocket science...
on October 30,2013 | 05:36PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Can't answer my question? I'm guessing that you are one of the regular trolls on here...
on October 30,2013 | 06:35PM
cojef wrote:
Had background checks done my FBI about 5 months after I was drafted(1944) unbeknown to me. Found out when on leave when I visited with on of my employers who that thought I'd screwed up big. Soon thereafter was sent Military Intelligence Language School. Also, before being accepted for Federal Civil Service as an Auditor(1970), FBI checked with my neighbors. Nowadays FBI role has shifted and have no time for background checks, I assume.
on October 30,2013 | 02:02PM
2NDC wrote:
They still conduct some of the background investigations. A few of my friends who I haven't spoken with for nearly 10 years were mildly concerned when two FBI agents contacted them regarding me. Once the investigators left I received a very interesting phone call from my friends who had a lot of questions for me. :-) They were relieved to hear that it was simply a periodic routine background investigation and I wasn't in any trouble.
on October 30,2013 | 03:21PM
atilter wrote:
many problems have been caused in the name of expediency - in many other career fields as swell - but not with the dire circumstances/results like this. somethings simply cannot/should not be rushed without an impeccable system of checks and balances. any client pushing a "for profit" contractor is looking for trouble.
on October 30,2013 | 02:27PM
RichardCory wrote:
Sue them for hiring a guy that literally defended the privacy rights of all human beings on the face of the Earth? I don't think so.
on October 30,2013 | 02:55PM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Looks like you're drinking the kool-aid....
on October 30,2013 | 03:18PM
RichardCory wrote:
No, I don't like sugary drinks.
on October 30,2013 | 03:24PM
kailua000 wrote:
the government contracts out all background investigations now. Apparently they need to go back to the old days.
on October 30,2013 | 03:12PM
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