OPM: Contractors will no longer review their own background checks

The federal government will no longer use contractors to review the quality of their own background checks, instead relying on its own employees to do the audits.

Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta said in a statement on Thursday that she would make the process ”fully federalized” starting on Feb. 24. “This decision acts as an internal quality control preventing any contractor from performing the final quality review of its own work,” she said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/02/07/opm-contractors-will-no-longer-review-their-own-background-checks/?wpisrc=nl_fed 

Procurement sleight-of-hand gave contractors access to Naval bases

The Navy Installations Command reached outside normal competitive channels to procure a flawed and risky commercial access control system that has allowed 65,000 contractors to routinely access its bases. The procurement process involved purchases on government credit cards 51 cents below the $2,500 maximum allowed, the Defense Department Inspector General said in a report released this week.

The Installations Command used a contract for a Navywide perimeter monitoring system run by the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, Fla., as the umbrella contract for the Navy commercial access control system, or NCACS, in 49 states and the Mariana Islands.  The command also tapped a contract for sensor systems run by the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Port Hueneme, Calif., to buy $9.9 million worth of handheld barcode scanners to check IDs at bases as part of the NCACS project, the IG reported.

The report also made it clear that the Installations Command outsourced base credentialing and background checks to a private contractor in order to save money.

In July 2010, the Installation Command selected the Rapidgate system developed by Eid Passport of Hillsboro, Ore., to vet contractor employees who needed routine base access for up to a year in place of the more secure Defense Department common access card issued to Aaron Alexis, an employee of a Hewlett-Packard Corp. subcontractor who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard Monday.

The Rapidgate system consists of a registration station that takes a photo of the contractor and scans fingerprints, and a Web interface for submission of personnel information.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2013/09/procurement-sleight-hand-gave-contractors-access-naval-bases/70496/?oref=nextgov_today_nl

Man who trained Feds on how to beat polygraph tests heads to prison

An Indiana man who charged federal employees and job applicants for training on how to beat lie detector tests was sentenced to eight months in prison on Friday.

Chad Dixon, 34, of Marion, Ind., charged customers up to $2,000 plus travel expenses to teach them how to subvert polygraph examinations used by government agencies in federal security background checks. Two federal contractors with Top Secret security clearances who worked for an intelligence agency and a law enforcement agency were among his customers.

“Dixon customized his trainings by asking each customer the purpose of their polygraph examination and the information they wanted to conceal from the government,” according to a press release from Neil MacBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/oversight/2013/09/man-who-trained-feds-how-beat-polygraph-tests-heads-prison/70122/?oref=govexec_today_nl

Resource centers boost competition for secret contracts

Restricted websites similar to the Federal Business Opportunities site are boosting competition for sensitive national security procurements, showing that competition is possible in the mysterious world, according to a report.

The National Reconnaissance Office hosts the Acquisition Research Center, which was developed for intelligence community procurements. It limits potential contractors to about 1,200 registered firms that are already cleared to work in a secure environment and have a workforce with security clearances.

“An NRO senior procurement official described this system as a proprietary classified version of FedBizOpps,” the Government Accountability Office wrote in a report released Jan. 13, 2012. GAO was reviewing competition for Defense Department contracts for national security needs.

Along with NRO, the National Security Agency has a business registry database. It provides industry with a central place for acquisition information. NSA officials use it for market research as a way to distribute documents to partners and other companies. All companies that are interested in doing business with NSA must be registered in the system. As of October 2010, the database included about 9,300 companies, GAO reported.

The Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, both of which are within the Defense Department, have made arrangements to use the systems.

GAO compared their contracts awarded under an acquisition rule allowing particular agencies to exempt certain national security contracts from a full-and-open competition. Because of the acquisition centers, NSA and NRO showed higher levels of competition compared to the DOD military departments, which don’t use the databases.

Annually, for NRO and NSA, competition for contracts ranged from 27 percent to 70 percent of total spending, GAO wrote, based on the information the agencies provided.

On the other hand, GAO found much less competition after analyzing procurement data on about 11,300 DOD national security contracts from fiscal 2007 through fiscal 2010, which equaled $2 billion. Military departments received more than one bid on only 16 percent of all contracts and task orders purchased under a national security exemption rule.

Defense officials noted three obstacles for their low percentage of competition.

  • Few contractors with clearances.
  • Constraints on soliciting new vendors.
  • Few tools to do market research.

In response to the report, DOD officials said they would assess the tools that the intelligence community has to do market research and consider giving defense agencies access to the databases.

About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week. This article apperaed on Jan. 17, 2012 at http://fcw.com/articles/2012/01/17/national-security-acquisition-resource-center.aspx.