Snowden Investigators Given $190M Contract Despite Fraud Allegations

Image: Snowden Investigators Given $190M Contract Despite Fraud Allegations

Thursday, 03 Jul 2014 07:32 AM

By Lisa Degnen

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The Department of Homeland Security has given a $190 million contract to U.S. Investigations Services LLC to help sort out its immigration problems. That’s the same company that did a background check on National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and has been accused of fraudulent business practices.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a federal grand jury launched an investigation last summer into the way USIS operates after the Justice Department joined a lawsuit that alleged the company has been defrauding the government.

The Falls Church, Virginia-based firm will now provide administrative support to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which oversees a legal path to immigration into the country, the Journal said.

USIS landed the government contract despite the allegations against it because it has yet to be suspended or barred, according to the newspaper. "By law and policy, we have to go with the lowest bidder," an official with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told the Journal.

In the civil suit, the Justice Department has said that the company performed subpar investigations into people requiring high clearance for top secret government jobs.

Snowden, who now resides in Russia after leaking classified U.S. secrets, was among those individuals whose background investigations were flawed, the Journal said.

The company also vetted the background of Aaron Alexis, a military contractor who used his security clearance to bring a gun into the Washington Navy Yard, the Journal said. He killed 12 people before he was killed by security officers.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has come under fire for not doing enough to suspend or remove contractors who do a poor job on security checks.

The Washington Times said the fraud charges arose after the USIS was accused of lying about 650,000 background checks it said it completed to receive millions of dollars in performance awards from the Office of Personnel Management.

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