Let’s Privatize the Government!
USIS is a private company that conducts background checks. Its corporate headquarters are in Idylwood, Virginia, near Falls Church, in Greater Washington, D.C. It conducts background checks through contracts with the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM). As of June 2013 it had 100 federal contracts, and it does background checks for over 95 federal agencies. The company was originally known as U.S. Investigations Services Inc. As of 2013 the company is the largest background check provider of the US government. USIS is a part of Altegrity Inc., a company headquartered in the Falls Church area that is owned by Providence Equity Partners.
USIS was founded in 1996 after the investigative branch of the OPM was privatized. Its creation was due to an effort of Vice President of the United States Al Gore’s effort to reduce the size of the civil service. The company was originally known as U.S. Investigations Services Inc. It was at first an employee-owned company. Around 2000 the Carlyle Group invested in USIS and in 2003 Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe committed capital to them. In 2007 Carlyle announced that it would sell USIS to Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm, for US$1.5 billion.
In 2008 the company had about 7,000 employees with 2,000 in the Greater Washington DC area. In the fiscal year 2012 the company received $253 million for the contract work of the OPM, 67% of the OPM’s contract spending for the fiscal year.
USIS is the focus of criminal and civil investigations of its role as the biggest contractor carrying out background checks of people working in classified government settings. The Justice Department has accused former USIS officials of submitting more than 660,000 flawed background checks between 2008 and 2012.
USIS has said it is cooperating with investigators, and that the alleged fraud related to a small number of officials over a limited period.
In new allegations Tuesday, a top federal official accused USIS of falsifying records to hide the alleged fraud.