There was an interesting article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal; a front page piece on US Investigations Services LLC (better known as USIS). They are the firm that gave Edward Snowden his security clearance.
According to the Journal, USIS’ CEO Bill Mixon was “flogging” his employees for not expediting security clearances. One former company official is quoted as saying, “You better not have one fucking case on your books.” The company gets paid when the work is done. Open investigations and files mean no money.
Obviously when corners are cut, the quality of the work product suffers. We are lucky that Snowden turned out to be a whistleblower and not a terrorist. Still, one wonders how many other unqualified people were given clean marks simply because investigators were in a hurry to move on to the next case.
USIS is an interesting company. It started out as a government agency but later became a private corporation. Some say that lead to insiders pushing revenues over quality.
USIS gets most of the outsourced background check work so one could argue that it also attracts most of the problems. Whistleblower Edward Snowden isn’t the only failure. Aaron Alexis, the contractor who shot and killed 12 people this year at the Washington Navy Yard, was also “cleared” by USIS.
According to the Wall Street Journal, eight USIS employees have been convicted of fabricating information. The company says it takes these allegations seriously. (At least according to a public relations consultant hired by the company.)
USIS isn’t the only contractor doing government background checks. Because the government pays for these services, anyone with inside information about fraud or fabricated background checks can potentially qualify as a whistleblower under the federal False Claims Act. That law allows whistleblowers to collect up to 30% of whatever the government collects from the company or people defrauding the government. With a reported USIS alone receiving $4 billion in recent government contracts, the potential recovery is staggering.
What should you do if you have original source information about a fraud against the government? The obvious answer is to report it but how you report is important.
Need for experienced Whistleblower Attorney
To qualify as for a whistleblower award, you must file a civil complaint under seal in a federal district court. Speak to an experienced whistleblower attorney; they can help you file and get the Justice Department interested in the case and make sure it doesn’t fall between the cracks.
While Congress recognized the importance of whistleblowers by adding anti-retaliation and cash award provisions in the law, the real reason most whistleblowers come forward is simply to do the right thing. Given the importance of security clearances, we certainly hope that those knowing about anyone cutting corners on sensitive background checks comes forward immediately. We don’t need an other shooting rampage or worse.
We suspect that USIS is not alone in the push for revenues. If other companies are putting profits over performance, we want to know. Our team of false claims act lawyers represent whistleblowers across the United States. We currently represent the whistleblower in one of the largest false claims act cases in the country; HUD’s $2.4 billion lawsuit against Allied Home Mortgage.
Want to learn more? Give us a call. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731 (direct). All inquiries protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept in strict confidence.
Post by Brian Mahany, Esq.