Former workers say profits pushed early closures of clearance probes

Sept. 28, 2013 at 11:44 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Former managers of a firm that gave security clearances to Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis say they were pressured to rush clearances to help profits.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the former United States Information Service officials said the company told investigators at the end of each month to "flush" their current cases, meaning to release them without reviewing them for quality, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Clearances granted by USIS allowed Snowden access to national secrets as a contract analyst for the National Security Agency -- secrets he later leaked to the media -- while Alexis got work at the Washington Navy Yard, where he shot and killed a dozen people Sept. 16.

USIS performs about 700,000 security checks a year, about half of all the security checks conducted for the U.S. government. It is paid by the case, and only when an investigation is completed.

Its contract with the government is worth $2.45 billion over five years.

"There would be a crisis situation when you were off by 2 percent" from a revenue quota, said a former top-level management executive.

A division president and the chief financial officer were fired after being found responsible for the flushing.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced a bill in 2004 that mandated deadlines for investigations when lengthy backlogs for clearances developed after 2001.

"My confidence in the system has been shaken by those two cases," Collins said, referring to Snowden and Alexis.

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