Security Check Firm Said to Have Defrauded U.S.
By MATT APUZZOJAN
January 23, 2014
The company that conducted a background investigation on the contractor Edward J. Snowden fraudulently signed off on hundreds of thousands of incomplete security checks in recent years, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
The government said the company, U.S. Investigations Services, defrauded the government of millions of dollars by submitting more than 650,000 investigations that had not been completed. The government uses those reports to help make hiring decisions and decide who gets access to national security secrets.
In addition to Mr. Snowden, the company performed the background check for Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old military contractor who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard last year. Mr. Alexis, who died in a shootout with the police, left behind documents saying the government had been tormenting him with low-frequency radio waves.
The accusations highlight not just how reliant the government is on contractors to perform national security functions, but also how screening those contractors requires even more contractors. U.S. Investigations Service, now known as USIS, is the largest outside investigator for government security clearances. It is one of many companies that has found lucrative government work during the expansion of national security in the last decade.
From 2008 to 2012, about 40 percent of the company’s investigations were fraudulently submitted, the Justice Department said.
The government made the accusations in a 25-page complaint filed in United States District Court in Montgomery, Ala., where USIS has been the subject of a whistle-blower lawsuit since 2011. News that the government officially joined that case on Wednesday was reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Government lawyers accused the company of releasing investigations that had not been complete, a practice referred to in court documents as “dumping.” The government quoted from internal company emails to argue that the practice was widespread.
"Have a bit of a backlog building, but fortunately, most people are off this week so no one will notice!” one USIS employee wrote in 2010.
A spokesman for USIS said Thursday morning in a statement: “These allegations relate to a small group of individuals over a specific time period and are inconsistent with the strong service record we have earned since our inception in 1996. Since first learning of these allegations nearly two years ago, we have acted decisively to reinforce our processes and management to ensure the quality of our work and adherence to OPM requirements. We appointed a new leadership team, enhanced oversight procedures, and improved control protocols. From the outset, we have fully cooperated with the government’s investigation and remain focused on delivering the highest quality service under our OPM contracts.”
In September, former and current USIS employees detailed how the company had an incentive to rush work because it is paid only after a file is marked “FF,” for fieldwork finished, and sent to the government. In the waning days of a month, investigations were closed to meet financial quotas, without a required review by the quality control department, two former senior managers said at the time.
The federal Office of Personnel Management confirmed that it paid USIS on a piecework basis. “The vendor is paid upon the delivery of a completed case,” the agency said in a statement shortly after the navy yard shooting. People familiar with the contract said it was intended to give the company an incentive to be efficient.
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. 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.
USIS also conducted the most recent security investigation of Mr. Snowden, in 2011. Patrick E. McFarland, the inspector general of the personnel office, told a Senate hearing in June that “there may be some problems” with the Snowden investigation, but he declined to give details.
USIS implicated in the death of Col. Ted Westhusing:
Contracting for 9/11 - PMCs - Mercenaries In Brooks Brothers Suits - 'Risk Consultants'
USIS is a private company that conducts background checks. Its corporate headquarters are in Idylwood, Virginia, near Falls Church, in Greater Washington, D.C. It conducts background checks through contracts with the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM). As of June 2013 it had 100 federal contracts, and it does background checks for over 95 federal agencies. The company was originally known as U.S. Investigations Services Inc. As of 2013 the company is the largest background check provider of the US government. USIS is a part of Altegrity Inc., a company headquartered in the Falls Church area that is owned by Providence Equity Partners.Sworn Statement by Michelle Westhusing, Col. Westhusing's wife.
Letter to a Dead Colonel
Is David Petraeus Dirty? Ted Westhusing Said So, and Then He Shot Himself.
A Death Reconsidered
“Carlyle's USIS Has Your Security Background Check The Carlyle Group has its hands on millions of sensitive files on American citizens stored in a limestone mine in Pennsylvania
By Wayne Madsen 1-26-6
The problems with 1997 privatization of the Office of Federal Investigations (OFI), which ultimately became U.S. Investigations Services (USIS), now owned by The Carlyle Group, were known to members of Congress, according to a former OFI official. A number of employees of OFI, which was part of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) before privatization, refused to accept the terms of the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The late Democratic Senator Paul Simon of Illinois was particularly opposed to the privatization of OFI. After OFI became USIS, the timeliness and quality of the security background checks conducted on Federal employees quickly deteriorated according to former OFI employees. They saw USIS being turned into a cash laundering operation whereby a few officials at the top became instant millionaires. Insiders also report that USIS "branched" into other operations never before conducted by OFI/OPM. These other operations were the focus of Col. Ted Westhusing's investigation when he was "suicided" in Baghdad [allegedly a contract hit]. It is also noteworthy that USIS assumed control of a converted limestone mine in Boyers, Pennsylvania. The mine, built during the Cold War to safeguard files in the event of a nuclear conflict, contains millions of government files, including those held by the federal Employee Service and Records Center. That means that The Carlyle Group now has access to sensitive personnel files on millions of current and past government employees as well as contractors who have applied for security clearances. http://waynemadsenreport.com/”
Theodore S. Westhusing served with what the U.S. Department of Defense called the "Multi-national Security Transition Command - Iraq". His primary duty was to oversee the training of Iraqis for civilian police duty, in collaboration with USIS, a private military company. In mid-May 2005 he received an anonymous letter alleging fraud, waste and abuse by USIS.
He also witnessed many of the following charges as well. The accusations included the following: forged employees' résumés claiming elite forces background; inadequate skills and competence of trainers; insufficient numbers of trainers in order to maximize profits; disappearance of large quantities of weapons, radios, and other equipment; employees boasting of killing Iraqis.
Col. Ted Westhusing (RIP)