For years, investigators charged with vetting the backgrounds of those who handle the nation’s secrets have said they were pressured to churn through cases as quickly as possible. The faster they turned them in, the faster their company got paid — even if the investigations were rushed and incomplete.
The company, USIS, lost the contract to conduct background checks used in granting security clearances after an employee blew the whistle in a lawsuit, eventually joined by the Justice Department. In the wake of a scandal so fierce that members of Congress accused USIS of defrauding the government and prioritizing profit over the nation’s security, federal officials vowed to prevent such abuses from ever happening again. But a similar quota system used by USIS to drive its investigators continues at KeyPoint Government Solutions and CACI the companies that now perform the bulk of the investigations.
Despite the congressional outcry, the contracts’ payment system is still structured so that the faster the contractors turn over the cases to the federal government, the quicker they get paid. And the federal government imposes a financial penalty if the companies miss their deadline.