Tech contractors pay $12 million to settle claims they failed to screen staff

Two technology contractors have agreed to pay the U.S. government over $12 million in total to settle a civil court case alleging they allowed employees to work on a Defense Department contract without security clearance.

Services firms NetCracker Technology and CSC will pay $11.4 million and $1.35 million, respectively, according to a Department of Justice release .

False Claims ActIt reveals that the two were accused of contravening the False Claims Act by using staff who had not gone through required vetting procedures to work on a Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) contract.

CSC was the prime contractor on the project to provide software to manage the Defense Department telecoms network between 2008 and 2013.

However, during that time, NetCracker is alleged to have knowingly used employees without security clearance, resulting in CSC “recklessly” submitting false claims for payment to DISA, the notice claimed.

A Washington Post report went further, claiming that some of the code written for the project was developed by Russian programmers and subsequently placed onto U.S. government computer networks with no testing for backdoors or other possibly malicious elements.

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DoD shows contractor personnel fired for misconduct as eligible for security clearance, IG says

When contractor employees accused of misconduct are fired or quit before DoD makes judgement, the system that records the adjudication still shows them as eligible for security clearance, a DoD inspector general report says.

In all the cases the auditors reviewed, as soon as employee misconduct was discovered, the contracting company either fired the employee or the employee resigned, the report (pdf) says. Once that occurred, the employee no longer had a need for access to classified information and no further personnel security action was taken to adjudicate the misconduct.

Since the case was not adjudicated for revocation of security clearance, it wasn’t reported to the Joint Personnel Adjudicative System – the database that holds information on contractors who’ve lost security clearance due to misconduct, the IG says.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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