September 8, 2014
The Washington Times
The contractor who performs the lion’s share of background checks for the federal government defended its work on Monday, saying it followed the rules and provided complete reports in the cases of Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis.
Calls for the government to cut ties with USIS have intensified in the wake of a massive cyberattack on the contractor, and USIS is also facing a civil fraud lawsuit filed by the Justice Department.
But USIS, in a statement Monday, said it is the target of a campaign of misinformation and said the August cyberattack, which prompted a stop work order, was being “exploited” to harm the company’s reputation.
“USIS self-detected this cyberattack and reported it immediately to OPM, to other government agencies and to federal law enforcement authorities,” the company said in the statement citing the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees the background check contracts.
The company also said other prominent defense contractors had been targeted in cyberattacks in recent years, as had the Pentagon, OPM and other federal agencies.
“Yet despite attacks like these on other large government contractors, USIS is not aware of any case where the government has issued a stop work order or refused to award new contracts,” the company said.
The company has also come under fire after Mr. Snowden fled the U.S. with top-secret intelligence documents and Alexis opened fire at the Navy Yard a year ago, killing 12 people.
USIS said it followed “all OPM-mandated procedures and protocols” in its background investigation of Mr. Snowden and that its file on Alexis was “complete and in compliance.”
The company’s statement — its most detailed defense yet — came days after several Republican lawmakers urged Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to cut ties with the company after the recent award of a border security contract to USIS worth up to $190 million.
“How can the American taxpayer be expected to trust such a company to properly vet immigrants seeking citizenship and ensure that terrorists and criminals are not being lawfully admitted into our country and communities?” Rep. Matt Salmon, Arizona Republican, wrote in a letter to Mr. Johnson.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, raised concerns about the contract in an earlier letter to Mr. Johnson.
Meanwhile, a competing contractor, FCi Federal, has filed a protest against the border contract, citing the accusations against USIS raised by the Justice Department lawsuit.
But USIS officials defended the award, saying in a statement that the contract went to the firm’s separate professional services division after a “rigorous” two-year competition.