OPM to take on final reviews of background checks

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Final quality reviews for contractor-completed background investigations will now fall on the shoulders of the Office of Personnel Management and not contractors, a Feb. 6 statement by OPM Director Katherine Archuleta says.

"Today, I have directed that the background investigations quality review process conducted by OPM be fully federalized," she said. "Effective February 24th, only federal employees will be conducting the final quality review before the investigative product is sent to the agency for review and adjudication."

Previously, the contractor reviewed the prepared background investigations themselves.

Archeleta said the decision acts as an internal quality control, preventing any contractor from reviewing the quality of its own work.

The decisions comes on the heels of a Justice Department investigation that revealed the company responsible for background checks on about half of all federal government hires knowingly took shortcuts when investigating individuals seeking security clearances.

The DOJ said Falls Church, Va.-based USIS took shortcuts and submitted files to the government that had not undergone a full review. The DOJ accuses USIS of submitting incomplete background reviews for about 40 percent of the cases it handled, which amounts to about 665,000 cases between March 2008 and September 2012.

USIS conducted background checks for both Aaron Alexis, who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard last fall and former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

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