Senators Seek Answers Regarding USCIS Contract

WASHINGTON – Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson Tuesday requesting a briefing on the award of a contract by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services to U.S. Investigations Services, Inc. (USIS) after having knowledge of a Department of Justice lawsuit alleging fraudulent billings by the company.

“Last fall, the Department of Justice joined a civil fraud lawsuit against USIS alleging a systematic failure to adequately conduct security clearance investigations” wrote Senators Carper and McCaskill. “Specifically, the complaint filed by the Department of Justice alleges that the senior management of USIS ‘dumped’ incomplete investigations on the Office of Personnel Management in order to increase the company’s revenues and profit. In light of the ongoing lawsuit, we are particularly interested in learning how USCIS evaluated the past performance of USIS on other contracts and assessed the company’s level of responsibility – both key requirements under federal procurement law.”

U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services awarded a $190 million contract to USIS on July 1, 2014, for support of its field operations. In October, 2013, the Justice Department intervened in the lawsuit against USIS under the False Claims Act, alleging that USIS “failed to perform quality control reviews in connection with its background investigations for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.”

USIS is a private corporation that provides security clearance background investigations and other support services. It was established in 1996 after the Office of Personnel Management privatized its investigative branch. Since its creation, USIS has provided services to more than 95 federal agencies.

To learn more about the Justice Department lawsuit, click here

A copy of the letter follows:

 

July 21, 2014

The Honorable Jeh C. Johnson

Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

3801 Nebraska Ave N.W.

Washington, D.C.  20016       

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We recently learned that the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) awarded a $190 million contract to U.S. Investigations Services, Inc. (USIS).  To better understand USCIS’s decision to award this contract to USIS, we request that USCIS provide a briefing to the Committee on the agency’s acquisition process for this procurement, including the nature of the services contracted from USIS and the source selection procedures used.

Last fall, the Department of Justice joined a civil fraud lawsuit against USIS alleging a systematic failure to adequately conduct security clearance investigations.   Specifically, the complaint filed by the Department of Justice alleges that the senior management of USIS “dumped” incomplete investigations on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in order to increase the company’s revenues and profit. This began in at least March 2008 and continued through at least September 2012 and involved 665,000 background investigations – approximately 40 percent of the total investigations conducted by USIS during that time frame.

In light of the ongoing lawsuit, we are particularly interested in learning how USCIS evaluated the past performance of USIS on other contracts and assessed the company’s level of responsibility – both key requirements under federal procurement law.   We understand that USCIS evaluated USIS’s proposed submission as “low risk.”

With best personal regards, we are      

                        Sincerely yours,

Thomas R. Carper                                                                                   

Chairman                                                                            

Committee on Homeland Security                                         

and Governmental Affairs                                                     

Claire McCaskill

Chairman

Subcommittee on Financial

and Contracting Oversight

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