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Navy Yard Shooting—McCaskill Reaction to USIS Having Performed Alexis Background Check

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NEWS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF U.S. SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL (MO.)

Navy Yard Shooting—McCaskill Reaction to USIS Having Performed Alexis Background Check

Senator, who chairs contracting oversight panel, led recent hearing in which it was revealed that the company is under criminal investigation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, who co-chaired a recent Senate hearing in which it was revealed that the government contractor USIS is under criminal investigation, today released the following statement after the company acknowledged that it performed the background check on Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis:

"From Edward Snowden to Aaron Alexis, what's emerging is a pattern of failure on the part of this company, and a failure of this entire system, that risks nothing less than our national security and the lives of Americans. What's most frightening is that USIS performs a majority of background checks for our government. We clearly need a top-to-bottom overhaul of how we vet those who have access to our country's secrets and to our secure facilities. I plan to pursue such an overhaul, and won't rest until it's achieved."

McCaskill—Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight—previously held a Senate hearing on oversight failings occurring in security clearance background checks, in which it was revealed that USIS, which had conducted Edward Snowden's investigation, is under criminal investigation. 

USIS alone conducts approximately 65 percent of all background check investigations conducted by contractors, and more than half of all the investigations conducted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). OPM's Inspector General recently reported that just since 2007, there have been 65 contractor employees and 20 federal employees who were convicted of, or investigated for, falsifying background checks.

Following Monday's mass shooting at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard and subsequent revelations that shooter Aaron Alexis had previous arrests, McCaskill has demanded answers from top federal officials on the thoroughness of his background investigation.

Military service members, federal workers, and contract personnel must obtain a security clearance to gain access to classified material. In 2012, there were 3.5 million federal employees and 1.1 million contractors who held a Secret or Top Secret Clearance. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Investigative Services Division handles almost all background investigations for security clearances for federal agencies. OPM's security clearance and background investigations cost the federal government approximately $1 billion in 2012—a yearly cost that is expected to rise to $1.2 billion by 2014.

OPM spends 46 percent of its funds on the contractors who perform investigations. Approximately 75 percent of all field investigators are contractors—an estimated 4,600 out of 6,200 in total.

Read about McCaskill's first term accomplishments in her fight for stronger accountability in Washington, HERE.

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