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Government Intervenes in Qui Tam Whistleblower Lawsuit Alleging Inadequate Background Checks

The Justice Department announced that the federal government has intervened in a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that United States Investigations Services, LLC (“USIS”), a government contractor, violated the False Claims Act.

The lawsuit claims that Virginia-based USIS failed to comply with the provisions of its contract with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”). Since 1996, USIS has had various contracts with OPM to perform background checks on potential federal agency employees. The contact at issue was entered into in 2006.

The whistleblower, Blake Percival, a former employee of USIS, alleged that USIS had released background investigations to OPM that had not gone through the full review process and were not complete, in order to meet its revenue targets and maximize its profits.

Recent events, including a Navy ship yard mass shooting, have caused the government to heighten its scrutiny of the practices involved with granting security clearances and running background checks. According to the Washington Post, USIS is the company who approved the security clearances for the alleged Navy gunman, Aaron Alexis, and former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden.

The government has until January 2014 to file its Complaint against USIS. If the government is successful in recovering monies from USIS, either through a judgment or a settlement, the whistleblower may be entitled to a percentage of any recovery pursuant to the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.

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