WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, along with Senators Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Begich of Alaska, today introduced legislation to prevent security clearance contractors from reviewing and approving their own background investigations.
The legislation comes in the wake of a U.S. Department of Justice allegation that government contractor U.S. Investigative Services (USIS) approved its own incomplete investigations in order to receive payment and timeliness bonuses from the federal government. USIS is the same contractor that conducted the background checks of Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis.
“It’s indefensible that contractors would ever have the authority to oversee themselves—particularly on work affecting our national security secrets and secure facilities,” said McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight. “It’s good news that the Administration has taken swift action to strengthen accountability in the past several months, but we have to do more. This legislation will further boost accountability and remove conflicts of interest by ensuring the same contractor won’t be able to both conduct background checks, and conduct a final review of that same background check process.”
Due to the controversy over the quality of background check investigations, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta recently announced that her agency—not government contractors—would conduct background check quality reviews. Archuleta’s order could be reversed by a future agency director, which McCaskill and her colleagues cited as reason for their bill’s introduction.
USIS remains under investigation by the Justice Department for “dumping” incomplete investigations by reviewing them as completed before sending them to OPM. USIS is the largest contractor providing background investigations for the U.S. government.
McCaskill and Tester also recently successfully passed the Security Clearance Oversight Reform (SCORE) Act into law. The bill allows the Inspector General of OPM to use resources from the agency’s $2 billion Revolving Fund to more thoroughly investigate cases where the integrity of the background check process may have been compromised.
Click HERE to read highlights of McCaskill’s fight for stronger accountability in Washington.