Tester pushes for accountability in background check contracting
Senator says transparency, national security should be top priorities
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester is calling on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to tread carefully as it considers renewing the contracts of companies that conduct background investigations for security clearance requests.
In a letter to OPM Director Katherine Archuleta, Tester says transparency and accountability must be among the agency’s primary considerations.
“If companies have consistently been unable to fulfill previous contractual obligations, and if there are questions as to whether they can fulfill basic contractual obligations for stronger accountability and greater transparency, I would strongly urge OPM to consider not extending or renewing those contracts,” Tester wrote.
Tester’s letter comes on the heels of a recent data breach that exposed internal records of 25,000 Department of Homeland Security employees, as well as allegations of fraud against the U.S. Investigative Services (USIS). USIS was the contractor responsible for the background checks of Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis.
Tester emphasized that any changes to the contracts must not weaken the quality or timeliness of the investigations.
“Keeping the background investigation contractor workforce accountable is a primary component of our nation’s security,” Tester wrote. “I believe stronger accountability and transparency measures should be considered top priorities.”
Tester has led the charge to reform the security clearance process by introducing legislation that would hold background investigation contract employees more accountable for their actions. The Senator also successfully got his SCORE Act signed into law, allowing OPM’s Inspector General to more thoroughly investigate cases where the integrity of the background check process may have been compromised.
Tester’s letter to Director Archuleta is available below.