Background check firm accused of bilking government of millions

The company that performs the bulk of background checks for federal agencies — including the cases of Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis and National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden — cheated the government out of millions of dollars by claiming it completed still unfinished investigations, the Justice Department has charged Thursday.

The scheme, which was known as “flushing” or “dumping” inside background check company USIS, involved representing background investigations as complete when the company had not yet received a quality review required by a federal contract, the Justice Department charged in a civil lawsuit unsealed Wednesday.

USIS engaged in the practice of dumping in order to meet budgeted goals and, therefore, increase its revenue and profits,” Justice Department attorneys James Dubois and Melissa Handrigan wrote.

A USIS spokesman was not immediately available for response on Thursday.

The complaint, filed in Alabama in connection with a whistleblower lawsuit, doesn’t cite how much the government is seeking to recoup overall, but notes USIS “received millions of dollars that it otherwise would not have received.”

The court documents also quote from an email that government lawyers say showed how a USIS quality-control manager sought to keep the practice from drawing attention.

“We do not want the customer to see this should we be audited again,” the unnamed manager wrote, according to the complaint.

USIS performs more than 2 million background checks each year, but its work came under scrutiny over the past year as details emerged about red flags missed in checks of Mr. Snowden — the former government contractor who leaked classified details about National Security Agency surveillance practices — and Alexis, the Navy Yard shooter.

Neither of those background cases were involved in the civil complaint unsealed this week.

 

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