OPM: Contractors will no longer review their own background checks

The federal government will no longer use contractors to review the quality of their own background checks, instead relying on its own employees to do the audits.

Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta said in a statement on Thursday that she would make the process “fully federalized” starting on Feb. 24. “This decision acts as an internal quality control preventing any contractor from performing the final quality review of its own work,” she said.

The move follows the Justice Department’s filing of  a lawsuit last month saying that the support-services firm USIS filed more than 660,000 background checks of U.S. government hires without properly reviewing the investigations. The Washington Post first reported that federal investigators had evidence of the alleged transgressions in June.

MORE: Company allegedly misled government about security-clearance checks

A woman hugs her child at a gathering point for family members of Navy Yard employees after after a shooting rampage in December. (Win McNamee/Getty Images).
A woman hugs her child at a gathering point for family members of Navy Yard employees after after a shooting rampage in December. (Win McNamee/Getty Images).

USIS first came under scrutiny from investigators and lawmakers when they discovered that the company had screened National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis.

The firm said in a statement last month that the alleged conduct in the lawsuit runs counter to its values and commitment to service. “These allegations relate to a small group of individuals over a specific time period and are inconsistent with the strong service record we have earned since our inception in 1996,” the company said.

OPM’s Federal Investigative Services division oversees U.S. government background checks, but much of the work is done by contractors, largely USIS. Archuleta said about 50 contractor employees and 300 federal employees review the investigations, but that all of the work would be absorbed by OPM personnel “through overtime and use of trained staff from other parts of the organization.”

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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