Lawmaker pushes for interview of background firm CEO

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The ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform wants congressional investigators to interview the head of the government’s biggest background check company, saying Monday that the firm has has failed to cooperate with Congress’s inquiry into executive bonus payouts.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, Maryland Democrat, said USIS chief executive Sterling Phillips has refused to answer questions posed both at a hearing and in a written follow-up letter. In April, a lobbyist for USIS told congressional staffers “the company does not anticipate making a further response” in response to Mr. Cummings‘ inquiry.

When The Washington Times reported on the email exchange last week, USIS said in a statement that it has been “very responsive” to congressional requests, providing interviews and thousands of pages of materials.

Still, officials would not say why they had not responded to Mr. Cummings‘ request seeking information about how the company awarded bonuses and what, if any, actions officials took to claw back six- and seven-figure bonuses from former officials.

“USIS’s refusal to answer committee questions is unacceptable, and it contradicts the oath Mr. Phillips took at the outset of the hearing to tell the entire truth about the role of his company in any alleged conspiracy to perpetrate a multi-year, billion-dollar fraud against the U.S. taxpayers,” Mr. Cummings wrote in a letter to committee Chairman Darrell Issa, California Republican.

Mr. Phillips has refused to respond to questions about bonuses paid out to executives over several years, when Justice Department alleges the company falsely claimed it had completed hundreds of thousands of background checks, according to Mr. Cummings.

USIS, which vetted Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, faces a civil action filed by the Justice Department that accuses the company of claiming it completed about 650,000 background investigations that remained unfinished. The complaint is unrelated to background investigations of Snowden and Alexis.

In a statement after the DOJ complaint, USIS said the “alleged conduct” related to a “small group of individuals over a specific time period.” The company also has said it’s under new management.

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