WASHINGTON — Federal authorities have accused the company that vetted former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis of conducting 665,000 incomplete reviews in exchange for millions of dollars in bonus payments, according to court documents.
About 40% of the background investigations performed from 2008 to 2012 by U.S. Investigations Services, a Virginia-based company that performs hundreds of thousands of background checks for the government, were incomplete, authorities alleged as part of a fraud claim against the company. The government's legal action is unrelated to its work involving Snowden, who is charged with the unauthorized disclosure of formerly secret government surveillance operations, and Alexis, a government contractor whose shooting rampage left 12 dead in September.
"Specifically, USIS devised a practice referred to internally as 'dumping' or 'flushing,' which involved releasing cases to the (U.S. Office of Personnel Management) and representing them as complete when, in fact, not all (reports of investigations) … had received a quality review,'' the government charged.
Citing internal company e-mails, the government charged that "dumping was a frequent and accepted occurrence at USIS.''
In one e-mail dated Oct. 29, 2010, a company supervisor told a manager, " 'tis Flushy McFlusherson at his merry hijinks again!!''
According to court documents, the alleged dumping "occurred on a daily basis'' and increased "significantly at the end of the month, quarter and year.''
"At those times, USIS management … would often direct the workload leader and his supervisor, the quality control manager, to clear out the shelves, which they understood to mean that they should release all cases in the queue waiting to be reviewed,'' the court documents stated. "This practice was followed in order to meet USIS's internal goals for completed cases and, therefore, to increase the company's revenues and profits.''
In a statement, USIS said the allegations "relate to a small group of individuals over a specific time period and are inconsistent with the strong service record we have earned since our inception in 1996."
"Since first learning of these allegations nearly two years ago, we have acted decisively to reinforce our processes and management to ensure the quality of our work and adherence to OPM requirements,'' the company stated. "We appointed a new leadership team, enhanced oversight procedures and improved control protocols.''