Washington, DC (July 17, 2014)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, sent a bipartisan letter to the Department of Homeland Security requesting documents and a briefing about the process used to award a new contract to USIS, a federal government contractor, despite the fact that the Justice Department filed a fraud suit against the company in January seeking more than $1 billion under previous government contracts.
“The purpose of our inquiry is to determine whether the Department considered this billion-dollar fraud suit against USIS before awarding the company a new government contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Cummings. “If not, we want to know why not, and whether legislative reforms may be necessary. I am pleased to be working with Senator Coburn on this bipartisan request.”
“Our committees have a long history of doing oversight of government contracting, and we have a responsibility to ensure that agencies make responsible, prudent decisions when awarding contracts and spending taxpayer money,” said Coburn. “We want to determine how an entity under DOJ investigation could receive such a lucrative contract from the federal government. I look forward to working with Ranking Member Cummings on this important inquiry.”
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within the Department of Homeland Security awarded a new contract to USIS on July 1, 2014, worth up to $190 million to provide field office support services related to the operation of the Department’s immigration system.
Federal acquisition regulations require agencies to review the past performance of potential contractors to ensure that they have a “satisfactory performance record” and a “satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics.”
Six months earlier, on January 22, 2014, the Department of Justice filed a civil action against USIS seeking more than $1 billion for alleged fraudulent activity committed by its most senior managers over a four-year period under contracts with the Office of Personnel Management.
In its filing, the Justice Department stated that “USIS management devised and executed a scheme to deliberately circumvent contractually required quality reviews of completed background investigations in order to increase the company’s revenues and profits.”
In their letter today, Cummings and Coburn request documents and a briefing relating to the process used by the Department of Homeland Security to review the past performance of USIS and the extent to which that process considered the fraud suit filed by the Department of Justice against USIS six months earlier.