$190 Million DHS Contract for Background Check Firm that Cleared Snowden, Alexis

The Department of Homeland Security is coming under fire for awarding a lucrative immigration-related contract to the firm under fire for clearing Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis.

Just last week, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed a bill inspired by allegations against US Investigations Services LLC (USIS) to keep contractors from conducting the final quality reviews of their own background investigations.

The Justice Department alleged that USIS put a stamp of approval on its own incomplete investigations in order to receive federal government payments.

Still, the company will be doing checks for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said he was "deeply troubled" by the $190 million contract.

"Snowden – now a houseguest of Russian intelligence – has done irreparable damage to the national security of the United States, endangering the lives of Americans around the world. Our nation’s top military officer has told Congress that the leaks of our ‘military capabilities, operations, tactics, techniques and procedures’ will take billions of dollars to overcome," Royce said.

“There is no good reason – bureaucratic or otherwise – why the United States should continue to do business with a company with this kind of track record, especially contracting with a key immigration agency. I strongly urge the Administration to reconsider this award in light of this company’s past performance," he stressed. "A $190 million contract to a company that has so poorly served the United States is indefensible.”  

USIS, which began contracting with the Office of Personnel Management in 1996, has been accused of using a software program to give incomplete applications the OK, concealing this practice from OPM and then billing OPM for inadequate background investigations.

“We will not tolerate shortcuts taken by companies that we have entrusted with vetting individuals to be given access to our country’s sensitive and secret information,” said Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division, in October. “The Justice Department will take action against those who charge the taxpayers for services they failed to provide, especially when their non-performance could place our country’s security at risk.”