Senate committee passes bill to keep security contractors from approving their own work

Tester heads up measure responding to allegations of conflict of interest

(U.S. SENATE) – The Senate Homeland Security Committee today approved Senator Jon Tester’s (D-Mont.) bill to keep contractors from conducting the final quality reviews of their own background investigations.

Tester introduced his bill, co-sponsored by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska), in the wake of the U.S. Department of Justice alleging earlier this year that government contractor U.S. Investigative Services (USIS) approved its own incomplete investigations in order to receive payment from the federal government.

USIS is the same contractor that conducted the background checks on Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis.

Tester issued the following statement after the committee passed his bill:

“We talk a lot about common sense in Washington, and this bill actually meets that bar. National security should never compete with profits. Our measure will hold federal contractors more accountable and make sure the same folks doing the background investigations aren’t the ones putting the final stamp of approval on them.”

Due to the controversy over the quality of background check investigations, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta earlier this year announced that her agency – not government contractors – would conduct the final background check quality reviews.

However, Archuleta’s order could be reversed by a future agency director, which is one reason the Senators introduced their bill.

USIS remains under investigation by the Justice Department for “dumping” incomplete investigations by reviewing them as completed before sending them to OPM. USIS is the largest contractor providing background investigations for the U.S. government.

Tester, McCaskill and Begich are members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Tester also recently got his Security Clearance Oversight Reform (SCORE) Act signed into law and passed his Security Clearance Accountability, Reform, and Enhancement (SCARE) Act through Committee.