BOOZ ALLEN ETC and subcontractors
Part of the fallout from the spectacular security breach at Booz Allen Hamilton itself–when its contractor Edward Snowden, hired at age 29 to monitor global classified security from inside a National Security Agency station in Hawaii, revealed the capabilities–is that the subcontractor who vetted Snowden for Booz Allen is being investigated.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
The subcontractor is northern-Virginia based US Investigations Services (USIS). The company is not connected to the federal United States Information Service. The USIS web site bills it as “the leader in federal background investigations.” From a recent media release comes this announcement that USIS has won a contract from the Department of Homeland Security:
“FALLS CHURCH, Va., – US Investigations Services Professional Services Division, Inc. (USIS PSD), a subsidiary of US Investigations Services, LLC (USIS), the largest commercial provider of background investigations to the federal government, has been awarded a prime contract by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), to provide biometric capture services in support of applications for a variety of immigration benefits and U.S. citizenship. The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract is for one base year with four one-year options and has a potential value of $889 million over a five-year period.”
More good news for immigrants. Further information on USIS, from the company:
“USIS provides services under more than 100 contracts. It is the largest commercial provider of background investigations to the federal government. It has more than 6,000 employees providing services in all 50 states and U.S. territories and overseas. USIS offers a variety of adjudication support, including background checks, litigation support, records support, investigative analytics and biometric services, as well as customized solutions that help government clients manage records, information and documents. Learn more at www.USIS.com.”
Also provided is the company’s statement on the June 20 Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing–Yes, we are being investigated–but it was not about Snowden, at least not last year–Nobody knew about Snowden then, including us:
“FALLS CHURCH, VA, June 20, 2013 — At a Senate hearing today, questions were raised as to whether USIS is under “criminal investigation.” USIS has never been informed that it is under criminal investigation. In January 2012, USIS received a subpoena for records from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Office of Inspector General (OIG). USIS complied with that subpoena and has cooperated fully with the government’s civil investigative efforts.
In the same Senate hearing, questions were raised as to whether USIS had conducted the initial background investigation, or a periodic reinvestigation, for the security clearance of Edward Snowden. USIS conducts thousands of background investigations annually for OPM and other government agencies. These investigations are confidential and USIS does not comment on them.”
The federal investigation into USIS itself was first reported by the Wall Street Journal:
“USIS, a Falls Church, Va., company owned by private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners LLC, has more than 7,000 employees and conducts 45% of OPM investigations done by contractors, officials said. Last year, USIS received $200 million for its work, Ms. McCaskill said.”
The Washington Business Journal faults lack of competition in contracting for problems:
“So what is this type of work worth? In 2011, USIS was awarded a multiyear contract by OPM to conduct background investigative fieldwork for government agencies. The estimated total value of the contract was about $2.45 billion over five years. And USIS held the same contract before that award.”
Bloomberg News blames the outsourcing on Al Gore:
“The revelation that Snowden disclosed two classified U.S. surveillance programs after being vetted by USIS may have damaged the company’s reputation and prompted questions about the wisdom of outsourcing security reviews.”
Bloomberg has a point. I, for one, also blame Al Gore for firing Keith Olbermann from CurrentTV.
Moving away from humor, Sourcewatch, among other sites, noted much earlier that the company was involved in the 2004 assault on Fallujah, in Iraq, and in an investigation on the assault connected to the death of Col. Ted Westhusing in 2005.
“Established in 1989, the firm pioneered a sector-based approach to private equity, convinced that a dedicated team of industry experts could build companies of enduring value in the dynamic communications industry. Guided by this commitment, we have led some of the most exciting and successful companies in our sectors, generating superior investment returns across economic cycles. Today, having invested in more than 130 companies over our 23-year history, Providence is one of the world’s premiere private equity firms and a dominant global franchise in the media, communications, education and information industries. . . .
Our team actively seeks investment opportunities on a global basis from offices in Providence, New York, London, Hong Kong, Beijing and New Delhi. We partner with companies across different stages in their development, from growth capital and complex recapitalizations of family-owned businesses to large buyouts and take-privates. We can employ a variety of financing structures and target equity investments of $150 million to $800 million. We prefer to lead our investments, serve on company boards, and work collaboratively with company management. From broadband to broadcast, music to film, wireline to wireless, publishing to Internet, we bring unparalleled industry, financial and operational expertise to each of our portfolio companies.”
Sounds secure, doesn’t it? Who would imagine that a global company, its offices around the world connected by thousands of electronic messages and transactions weekly, could have any problems–even indirect–with security breaches on its watch?
When again did satire die, exactly?
Among those companies is Altegrity, the parent company of USIS. Altegrity is among other things the holding company for Kroll Ontrack Inc. and London-based Kroll Advisory Solutions, spin-offs from the former Kroll Inc, which provided security services in Iraq. Kroll, like Booz Allen Hamilton with which it had significant interchange, was up to its eyeballs in boosting war with Iraq, a war for which it also helped prepare and from which it received substantial government contracting business. Kroll was previously owned by Marsh & McLennan, also involved both in boosting the invasion of Iraq and in Iraq war business once the war was underway. So once again–not to hammer a point that should be sufficiently obvious by now–we have security and investigation companies participating in monitoring, oversight, or investigation of what amounts to their own previous work. The companies, furthermore, having won government contracts for their previous work, are now winning government contracts to retrace the steps–so to speak–on a global scale.
Another company held by Altegrity, by the way, is HireRight, “the commercial employment screening business of Altegrity that serves more than 30,000 commercial customers in the U.S. and overseas, including more than 25 percent of the Fortune 500.”
It remains to be seen whether the vetting for those 30,000 commercial customers rises to the standard of the vetting that gave us Edward Snowden.
To be continued