Cummings wants USIS head to answer questions

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) wants to get answers from the chief executive of the largest federal contractor that conducts background security investigations.

Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, asked the panel’s chairman to order a transcribed interview with Sterling Phillips, the chief executive of U.S. Investigations Services (USIS). The private company has been a focal point of attention since last year’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard that resulted in the death of 13 people. 

Aaron Alexis killed 12 people before he was killed by police. He was a Defense Department contractor whose background check was done by USIS.

Cummings, in  a letter to Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said a transcribed interview was necessary because Phillips “has refused to respond to questions from the Committee about bonuses paid to USIS executives during this period of alleged fraud.”

The Justice Department has accused USIS of “dumping” cases — doing incomplete background investigations. In a statement released in March, USIS said it has zero tolerance for noncompliance.”

Earlier this month, a report from the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general said one USIS worker supposedly completed 15,000 reviews in one month, a suspiciously high amount.

Issa’s office said he is considering the request from Cummings.

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.

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