Navy Contractor Failed to Spot Felons in ClearancesGopal Ratnam
A company hired by the U.S. Navy to manage passes for entry to Navy facilities issued some credentials to government contractors before their identities were vetted through criminal or terrorist databases, according to an audit by the Pentagon Inspector General.
As a result, “52 convicted felons received routine, unauthorized access to Navy installations for 62 to 1,035 days,” the audit found. “This placed military personnel, dependents, civilians and installations at an increased security risk.”
The Pentagon audit was conducted before yesterday’s shootings at the Washington Navy Yard and doesn’t indicate whether the computer contractor identified as the shooter, Aaron Alexis, had the type of entry pass involved in the review.
The contractor, Eid Passport Inc., of Hillsboro, Oregon, provided “interim installation access” for employees of contractors doing work for the Navy “without having their identities vetted through mandatory, authoritative databases,” the audit said.
“The tragic incident that occurred at Washington Navy Yard was not related to the program we provide to the Navy,” John Nee, vice president of marketing at Eid Passport, said in an e-mailed statement.
Alexis was never an applicant or participant in the company’s program, he said. Eid’s project was “designed to manage access control and privileges” for vendors, contractors and sub-contractors without a common access card, according to the company’s website.
The 56-page report was posted on the Inspector General’s website after lawmakers, including Representative Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican, asked the Pentagon to make the audit results public after yesterday’s mass shooting.
Authorities say Alexis, 34, an employee of an information-technology company who had a record of gun-related arrests and a checkered military career, killed 12 people before he was shot to death by police. Authorities have said Alexis gained access to the Navy Yard using a valid credential.
“This is very disturbing because the Inspector General has specifically identified that the vetting process is insufficient,” Turner, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a phone interview. The Navy’s system for granting access didn’t meet federal and Pentagon rules and “individuals who’re receiving access to facilities weren’t even being vetted as possible terrorists,” he said.
Shortcomings in the system for access credentials occurred because of “an attempt to reduce access control costs,” the Pentagon audit said.
Of 52 felons the audit found had gained access to Navy facilities, one person with a previously unidentified felony conviction had access to the Navy District of Washington, the audit found.
Eid Passport told the inspector general that it subcontracts background checks to other vendors and that “not all public records are up-to-date, complete, accurate, or available,” according to the report.
The inspector general also faulted the commander of the Navy Installations Command for failing to follow “federal credentialing standards” and not providing 7 out of 10 installations visited by inspectors with “the appropriate resources and capabilities to conduct required background checks.”
The inspector general plans to expand the audit to examine all of the Pentagon’s access control procedures, Turner said.
The audit found that the Navy paid Eid Passport $1.2 million in “potentially unallowable costs” and hasn’t had a valid contract with the company since November 1, 2011. The Navy in October 2012 entered into a nonbinding agreement, the audit found.
The Navy’s system that allowed a contractor to issue access passes to its facilities “wasted money,” and lacked competent oversight, Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat and chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, said in a statement. The program “constitutes an unnecessary danger to the Navy and its personnel and it should be discontinued immediately.”