News / USA

Government Sues Company that Handled Snowden Security Investigation

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The U.S. Justice Department is joining a lawsuit against the company that handled the background check of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

While the lawsuit is not about the firm's review of Snowden, the Justice Department alleges the private United States Investigations Services failed to perform quality control reviews on background investigations for the White House Office of Personnel Management.

The suit originally was filed by a former United States Investigations Services employee more than two years ago in Alabama.

USIS dominates the background check industry, taking in $195 million in government payments last year.  The firm also vetted Aaron Alexis, the technology contractor who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard last month.

The Department of Justice alleges that since 2008 the firm used software that automatically released investigations that were not yet complete, in order to meet revenue targets.  The firm concealed the practice, known as "dumping," and improperly billed the government for the work.

A USIS spokeswoman said the firm is cooperating with the government's investigation and has replaced its leadership and improved its controls since it first heard of the allegations last year.

Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery said "We will not tolerate shortcuts taken by companies that we have entrusted with vetting individuals to be given access to our country's sensitive and secret information."

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