Mar 10, 2014
Shortcuts Seen at Background Check Firms
Posted on Sep 28, 2013
Members of Congress are asking whether the outsourcing of security checks of the kind that cleared NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden and accused Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis are leading private contractors to cut corners and falsify reports.
The New York Times reports on a practice known as “flushing,” in which managers at for-profit investigation companies order the “quick final approval of background investigations without reviewing them for quality” in order to meet their revenue goals. The paper highlighted a branch of a company called USIS based in Church Falls, Va., that has performed 700,000 yearly security checks for the government and is its largest outside investigator of applicant backgrounds.
A person familiar with the company said two top executives—a division president and the chief financial officer—were fired after being found responsible for ordering the flushing.
Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the Pentagon and military contractors have taken the need to vet their employees seriously. Investigations for a top-secret clearance during the Bush administration took as many as 400 days. To speed up investigations, the federal personnel office hired private companies like USIS to do the majority of the work, which significantly eased the backlog that had built up.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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