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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Troubled USIS issues myth-buster brief

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.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Sep 08, 2014 at 9:23 AM

Reader Comments

Fri, Sep 19, 2014 Joseph Phoenix, AZ

I posted the following letter on the Facebook page of the Director of OPM and seven congressman involved with USIS losing the contract. The following is the post: I work as an investigator for USIS. I and over 3000 other employees will lose our jobs on September 30th because the Office of Personal Management (OPM) did not renew our contract. Most employees believe this decision was made due to pressure imposed on OPM by Congress. As you are aware during 2008, 2009 and 2010 USIS upper management billed the Government over 10 million dollars for investigative cases it did not review. This information was revealed by a whistle blower. Once this information was revealed every employee, to include all senior, executives, who were involved or even remotely associated with this criminal act were fired and replaced by new management. After they were fired USIS hired a Special Independent Integrity Officer (SIIO), a Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer (CECC) and set up an 800 Integrity Phone Number any employee could call anonymously to report any integrity, criminal and compliance violations. This phone line was monitored by an outside company and any report of a violation was reported directly to our CEO, SIIO and CECC and then investigated and acted on. My question to you is why would you allow OPM to stop the contract with USIS when USIS had installed all the necessary protocols and measures to ensure that all employees would abide by the highest ethics and laws and when over 3000 innocent employees who were very embarrassed and outraged by this criminal act of upper management, would lose there jobs? The individuals should be punished but why the more than 3000 employees? Sincerely, A soon to be out of work fellow United States Citizen. As for the comments above from Scott who said he can personally confirm investigators have falsified time sheets and reports of investigations in the past. Why did he not report this to authories. Any falsification is illegal, but please be aware that OPM investigators have been prosecuted more times than USIS investigators for falsification based on percentage of employees working on the contract. Also, please be aware that just in my small town I have worked on at least 10 cases where Army recruiters falsified security questionnaire so they could get there recruits accepted into the Army. These recruiters were reported to OPM but I am not sure if they followed up on the falsification. It is such a routine problem that OPM has set up a platform to report these recruiters.

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

the whistleblower jumped in after the investigation was underway. he may be as crooked as leadership

Wed, Sep 10, 2014

Suggest u read the 22 Jan 2014 complaint (lawsuit) filed by the United States Department of Justice in Alabama. The press release from the company does not appear to challenge these facts, and thus may appear to accept them. The press release seems to be more about competitor blocking and tackling than about the integrity of the company performing a vital function for the United States Government. It is possible government customers are concerned more about integrity and the delivery of contractually required performance than one company jousting with another for a piece of business. This is a volume/commodity business if there ever was one, and it requires strong systems, productivity, and quality control and needs to be insulated from the temptations of bonuses based on volume. Integrity is vital; removing some officials is progress but there is more to effecting change, for example, cleansing the environment inside the company that may have opened the door for the alleged dumping. Suggest some journalistic reporting rather than only providing part of the story in the company's press release. Perhaps senior executives would permit you to interview them regarding the thrust of the DOJ allegations. You might also talk with the first and second private equity firms that own the company. You could also talk with agencies that are customers of OPM for the investigation output that has been the subject of allegations. That would be more valuable to readers of all types. Thanks for paying attention to this bellwether case

Mon, Sep 8, 2014 Scott

I worked for USIS as a Background Investigator for 8 years and I can confirm that multiple investigators working for USIS have falsified time sheets and reports of investigations in the past.

Mon, Sep 8, 2014

And how are they debunking the "Myth" that they defrauded the government by falsly claiming to have completed work on more than 600,000 background investigations when they had not? This was NOT self reported and in fact only came to light via a whistle blower.

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