Congressmen demand answers from DHS over new USIS contract

Thursday - 7/17/2014, 4:09pm EDT

By Ellen Kortesoja
Federal News Radio

Two congressional leaders want to know whether USIS' history was considered when the Homeland Security Department awarded the company a new contract.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklah.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, have written a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson asking for an explanation.

The awarded contract is worth up to $190 million to provide field office support to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a component of DHS.

Coburn and Cummings requested documents and a briefing to spell out DHS' process of reviewing USIS' past performance as a government contractor.

The Justice Department filed a civil complaint against USIS in January for the contractor's alleged "dumping of at least 665,000 background investigations.

The congressional leaders write that the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requires agencies to make sure applying contractors have a "satisfactory performance record," and a "satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics" when choosing contract awardees.

According to the letter, DHS stated that USIS met such requirements. The congressmen now want to know how DHS came to that conclusion due to "alleged fraudulent activity" that took place over four years during a contract agreement that USIS had with the Office of Personnel Management.

The lawmakers want to see all relevant documents related to DHS' decision process before July 21, and they expect DHS staff to appear for a briefing the week of July 28.

RELATED STORIES:

Background check firm in hot water for 'flushing' records

Background check probe zeroes in on USIS contracts

Background investigation fraud case against USIS moved to DC court

OPM's crackdown on background check fraud leads to jail time -- for some