Security clearance contractor pays more than $30 million to settle false claims allegations

by Ben Vernia | August 20th, 2015

On August 19, the Department of Justice announced that U.S. Investigative Services, a bankrupt contractor providing background investigative services, has agreed to pay more than $30 million (in foregone contract payments) to settle allegations that the company falsified reports on background investigations. According to DOJ’s press release:

The Justice Department announced today that U.S. Investigations Services Inc. (USIS) and its parent company, Altegrity, have agreed to settle allegations that USIS violated the False Claims Act (FCA) for conduct involving a contract for background investigations that USIS held with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  The companies have agreed to forgo their right to collect payments that they claim were owed by OPM, valued at least at $30 million, in exchange for a release of liability under the FCA.  USIS and Altegrity are headquartered in Northern Virginia.

From its privatization in 1996 until September 2014, USIS provided background investigations services for OPM under various fieldwork contracts.  The government alleged that beginning in at least March 2008 and continuing through at least September 2012, USIS deliberately circumvented contractually required quality reviews of completed background investigations in order to increase the company’s revenues and profits.  Specifically, USIS allegedly devised a practice referred to internally as “dumping” or “flushing,” which involved releasing cases to OPM and representing them as complete when, in fact, not all the reports of investigations comprising those cases had received a contractually-required quality review.  The government contended that, relying upon USIS’ false representations, OPM issued payments and contract incentives to USIS that it would not otherwise have issued had OPM been aware that the background investigations had not gone through the quality review process required by the contracts.

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In February 2015, Altegrity, USIS and their affiliates filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in Delaware.  The settlement of USIS’ FCA liability is part of a broader settlement that also resolves other matters between the United States and USIS/Altegrity that were part of the bankruptcy proceeding.

DOJ reported that it has not yet determined the amount that the whistleblower, a former USIS executive, will be paid.

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