- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 22, 2014

The background check company that vetted Edward Snowden and faces fraud accusations from the Justice Department has refused a congressional request for details about executive bonus payouts and the identities of some former officials.

“The company does not anticipate making a further response,” a lobbyist for USIS wrote in an April 10 email to Democratic staffers on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The previously undisclosed email correspondence, obtained by The Washington Times last week, was in response to requests to USIS by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat and ranking member of the oversight committee.

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He wanted to know, among other things, how the company awarded bonuses, whether it conducted any internal investigations into fraud accusations and what, if any, actions officials took to claw back six- and seven-figure bonuses to former executives.

Those questions were raised in the wake of a Justice Department civil lawsuit accusing USIS of claiming it completed about 650,000 background investigations that actually remained unfinished, while receiving millions of dollars in performance awards from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The company has addressed some of the issues raised by Mr. Cummings publicly, but not all of the information sought by the congressman has been disclosed. So far, the company has resisted providing answers.

Mr. Cummings‘ inquiry was forwarded to USIS in March by Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House oversight panel, which held a hearing in February into last year’s Washington Navy Yard shootings. The gunman, Aaron Alexis, was vetted by USIS, which is a part of Virginia-based Altegrity Inc.

Months after requesting information from USIS CEO Sterling Phillips — both at a hearing and in his follow-up letter — Mr. Cummings is increasingly frustrated that his questions remain unanswered.

“The CEO of USIS committed under oath that he would answer questions from the committee, but now his lobbyists say he refuses,” Mr. Cummings told The Washington Times.

“I want to know if the people who were in charge during the fraud scheme are the same people in charge today, and the American people have a right to this information.”

USIS, in an email statement from a company spokesman, said officials have already provided lots of information.

“The company has been very responsive to the [oversight] committee, including engaging in open discussions in person with committee members and staffers, responding to numerous written requests and providing thousands of pages of materials related to our business and the background investigations process,” the company said in the statement.

But the statement failed to indicate why USIS hasn’t responded to the congressional inquiry.

In his letter, Mr. Cummings referred to an earlier exchange he had with Mr. Phillips during the oversight congressional hearing.

He asked the USIS official for the identity of those at Altegrity who approved $1 million in bonuses to former USIS CEO Bill Mixon, who resigned from the company in 2011.

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