Troubled USIS issues myth-buster brief

USIS apparently has had enough of the criticism leveled at it for Edward Snowden and other issues, and the company has come out with a memo that dispels what it says are the five most common myths about the company.

U.S. Investigations Services has finally decided to address its critics that have slammed the company repeatedly over its involvement in the background NSA leaker Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis.

There apparently were two final straws for the company: one was the firestorm directed at USIS in the wake of it winning a contract with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for field office support services earlier this summer.

The second was the fallout from the company’s self-reporting of a cyber attack on its networks last month.

Since the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services win, “USIS has been the target of inaccurate and misleading public allegations regarding its business and commitment to providing the highest quality service to the government,” the company said in its statement.

The release, which includes a detailed Myth vs. Fact section, is called USIS Sets the Record Straight.

The memo takes on five myths, the first of which is that USIS should not be allowed to bid or win government contracts because of the self-reported cyber attack.

The company argues that there was no wrongdoing on its part, and that it responded responsibly.

The second myth is that the company botched the background checks of Alexis and Snowden. “This statement is absolutely false,” the company said.

The key bit of evidence for the company is that the Office of Personnel Management told Congress that investigation of Alexis was “completed and in compliance with all investigative standards.” The company also says it followed all OPM-mandated procedures and protocols in regards to Snowden’s investigation.

Neither the Snowden nor Alexis investigations are part of a Justice Department civil action against USIS. 

Other myths the company takes on include whether it should be allowed to pursue contracts while under investigation by the Justice Department, and that USIS negligently granted security clearances. The fact is that USIS “plays no role in making those determinations,” the company said.

The company also debunks the myth that employees connected to the allegations involved in the Justice suit remain with the company. They do not, according to USIS.

In fact, the company has replaced its CEO, division heads, chief financial officer, chief of human resources, and other key executives since the time of the alleged misdeeds the Justice Department is pursuing.

Those allegations date to 2011 when a former employee filed a False Claims Act suit against the company, saying USIS had a process for circumventing final reviews and releasing investigations quickly as way to increase profits. The Justice Department only joined the suit this summer.

USIS’s memo is a compelling piece of crisis communication. Perhaps it should have come out earlier, but a lot of what is contained in the memo is part of the public record thanks to congressional testimony and other coverage of USIS.

But this release brings all of the allegations together in one place and might be a signal that perhaps the company is willing to make the fight for its reputation a bit more public.

The memo likely won’t quiet USIS critics, but perhaps it’ll reassure supporters and customers. Time will tell.

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