Last month, when a former U.S. government contractor pleaded guilty for falsifying reports related to background checks for security clearances, it was nothing new in the industry for security clearances.
Since 2008 the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) helped convict 17 background investigators and two record checkers in incidents related to fraudulent background reports. The charges range from falsifying reports, or “ghostwriting,” to background checks that don’t adhere to OPM’s guidelines.
The latest is Brian Rapier, who faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines for falsifying background reports of federal employees and contractors. Rapier plead guilty last month. He produced more than four dozen background investigation reports between June 2009 and April 2010 that were supposed to include an interview with a source or a reviewed a record. However, he did not, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
“Rapier’s false representations have required Federal Investigative Services to reopen and rework numerous background investigations that were assigned to him during the time period of his falsifications, at an estimated cost of at least $173,446 to the U.S. government,” according to a release by the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
Rapier worked for USIS, formerly known as U.S. Investigations Services Inc., as a contract investigator who conducted background investigations for OPM’s Federal Investigative Services. USIS is the largest outside investigation company for federal security clearances, having performed more than 2.3 million investigations during the 2013 fiscal year. It is also the same company that conducted the background investigation for the National Security Agency leaker Edward J. Snowden, and Aaron Alexis, who shot and killed 12 people at a Navy Yard in Washington D.C.
USIS has been under investigation since last summer, for “systematic failure to adequately conduct investigations.” However, criminal charges may not be implemented, since they would have most like come before the civil case filing.
A decade ago OPM struggled with processing more than 350,000 open background-investigation reports. In 2004 Congress passed a law that required the OPM to process 90 percent of cases within 60 days, which set a deadline of 40 days for investigation and 20 days closing the case. Due to improvements in background investigations over the past few years, the Government Accountability Office removed security clearances from its High Risk List in 2011.