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Background Checks Update: Following McCaskill Criticism, OPM Agrees to

Stop Letting Contractors Oversee Their Own Security Clearance Work

OPM will no longer rely on private contractors to oversee contractors conducting security clearance background checks

Senator—cosponsor of bill to boost oversight of process—had criticized process in wake of Snowden leaks, Navy Yard shooting

WASHINGTON – Following criticism by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the federal government today agreed to stop allowing private contractors to oversee their own contracting work in security clearance background checks. McCaskill—Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight—released the following response:

“This is another step in the right direction to better protect our nation’s secrets and secure facilities. The notion of letting private contractors oversee themselves—especially when it comes to work affecting our national security—was ludicrous on its face. We’ve seen swift action to boost accountability over these contractors, and now Congress should finish the job by passing our bipartisan bill that would strengthen background checks through automatic reviews.”


McCaskill has introduced a bill with Senator Jon Tester of Montana that improves oversight of the security clearance process by empowering the Office of Personnel Management to use resources from its Revolving Fund to audit and investigate contractors that conduct background checks. That legislation has been approved by both the Senate and the U.S. House, and is awaiting the President’s signature into law.   


McCaskill previously revealed at a Senate hearing that USIS, the company responsible for conducting the background investigations for both national security leaker Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, was under criminal investigation, and she sharply criticized the company’s oversight practices. McCaskill also questioned the fact that USIS had two separate contracts with the federal government—one to conduct background investigations, the other to oversee background investigations conducted by contractors, including USIS itself. 


In October, McCaskill also joined with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine to introduce bipartisan legislation that would implement an automated review of public records and databases for any information that might affect the security clearance status of individuals who have such a clearance. That legislation is also sponsored by Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.


Click HERE to read highlights of McCaskill’s fight for stronger accountability in Washington.