DHS Awards $190 Million Contract to Background Check Firm

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

ESR News BlogThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded a new $190 million contract to a background check firm once accused of “defrauding the government while carrying out background checks on millions of people” but never blocked from federal work, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal available online at http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-s-gives-new-contract-to-firm-that-cleared-nsa-leaker-1404344583.

The Wall Street Journal reports the DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – the agency that oversees legal immigration to the country – hired US Investigations Services LLC (USIS) to help operate the nation’s immigration system. Unless a company is suspended or barred by the government from contracts, “by law and policy, we have to go with the lowest bidder,” a USCIS official said.

The DHS said the decision about the five-year contract – the first major federal award USIS has gained since coming under scrutiny over alleged fraudulent practices used during government background checks for security clearances – came after an 18-month review, the Wall Street Journal reports, and that “at this time there is no conduct that has resulted in suspension or debarment of USIS.”

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) – which oversees background check investigations – said that USIS had addressed concerns raised by background check fraud allegations and that they were “satisfied with the steps taken by USIS to deal with actions by their employees and previous leadership.” USIS declined to comment on the government contract, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In June 2014, the OPM’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Office of Audits released an ‘AUDIT OF THE FEDERAL INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES’ CASE REVIEW PROCESS OVER BACKGROUND INVESTIGATIONS’ to ensure government background check contractors meet contract requirements. The audit is available at http://www.opm.gov/our-inspector-general/reports/2014/audit-of-the-federal-investigative-services-case-review-process-over-background-investigations.pdf.

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