23 January 2014

Dump the dead goldfish

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Justice Department on Wednesday accused Investigations Services LLC (USIS), the national government's largest private security background checker, of a multi-million dollar fraud by filing over 660,000 flawed background investigations. USIS is part of the Altegrity private security conglomerate.

The contentious vetting is 40% of the investigations by USIS for the government over a four year period, including vetting used by the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security and over 100 other federal agencies.

Justice Department unhappiness was foreshadowed here.

The WSJ indicates that the Department has filed a 25 page civil complaint to join a whistleblowers' lawsuit against USIS in Alabama. The filing accuses USIS of using close ties with the government 'to conceal the so-called practice of dumping or flushing background checks, i.e. sending the government cases that didn't have proper review. USIS notes that it "was formed through the privatization of the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Investigation Service in July 1996, so it is not surprising that the majority of our services and solutions are provided to government clients.

One of the Justice media releases indicates that the whistleblower is seeking qui tam recognition, potentially important given indications that USIS has gained over US$4bn in federal contracts over the past decade.

The filing reportedly quotes one USIS executive as informing two quality control officers in 2010 that he "Flushed everything like a dead goldfish", presumably contrary to the USIS statement that "integrity and excellence are core values" and that
The alleged conduct referenced in the civil complaint is contrary to our values and commitment to exceptional service. These allegations relate to a small group of individuals over a specific period of time and are inconsistent with the strong service record we have earned since our inception in 1996.
The organisation's Corporate Code [PDF] features the stirring CEO statement that -
I am very pleased to be a part of a company that is deeply founded on the principle of integrity. Integrity is not only one of Altegrity’s Core Values, it is truly woven throughout the corporation at every level. We treat each other, as well as our customers, with the utmost respect—and we uphold the highest degree of honesty and trust in all our business interactions. 
As is true with all great companies, Altegrity has a Code of Conduct and Business Ethics policy that helps guide our day-to-day business contacts and dealings. Following the Code helps uphold our corporate culture that is so focused on integrity, but also ensures we comply with national and international laws and regulations that govern our businesses. 
It is important that every employee—at every level—understands our Code of Conduct and complies with the Code every day, in all dealings within and outside our company. Even more importantly, we must uphold the spirit of the Code, for those situations or scenarios that may arise that are not specifically addressed. We should always conduct ourselves in a way that supports Altegrity’s reputation. It is imperative that we use good judgment to guide our actions and seek assistance should we encounter an ethical dilemma that we cannot resolve on our own.
Obviously someone wasn't reading the rhetoric the right way.

The Altegrity site indicates that
Altegrity is a coined name derived from Altus, Latin for high, suggesting altitude, achievement, success, and perspective, and Integrity, the critical foundation of our businesses and our work that revolves around sound judgment and rigorous adherence to the highest principles. Altegrity signifies a company whose work with people is of the highest integrity and suggests efficiency, disciplined processes, accuracy in what we do, and completeness or thoroughness of our solutions. Altegrity is a company that always strives to achieve the heights of integrity.
Altegrity encompasses 10,500 employees in 30 countries. Apart from USIS its subsidiaries include Kroll Advisory Solutions ("the global leader in risk mitigation and response", offices in 29 cities across 17 countries), Kroll Ontrack ("legal technologies, data recovery and information management solutions", with 30 offices worldwide, inc Australia) and HireRight ("a leading provider of on-demand employment background screening, drug and health screening, and employee eligibility solutions that help employers automate, manage, and control screening and related programs").

The latter claims relationships with over one-third of the Fortune 500 and that it "screens more than 6 million applicants annually", including "pre-integrated employment screening services through enterprise e-recruiting solutions from top providers such as Oracle, Taleo, Kenexa, SAP, Silkroad, PeopleAdmin, HealthcareSource and HRsmart" (some of which operate in Australia).

USIS is described by Altegrity as the U.S. government's largest supplier of background investigations and provides diverse investigations to all levels of government and law enforcement agencies", including. This includes

  • health care fraud site visits, criminal background checks and fingerprinting 
  • physical/personnel/facility security, investigative analytics, intelligence analysis, construction surveillance and security convergence
  • litigation support, records management and information support services for the government. 
  •  site verification visits, electronic fingerprint collection and FBI channeling, fraud investigations and medical payment claims validation to combat fraud, waste and abuse
  • secure, proprietary IT systems to conduct its investigation processes, ensuring information security and real-time tracking of performance. 
  • construction surveillance to several secure government construction projects. 
  • customized records, information, and document management solutions for the federal government, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and more. 
  • litigation support, including drafting motions and briefs, conducting legal research, supporting discovery and assisting in trial or negotiation preparations.