Following Navy Yard Shooting, Watchdog Report Highlights Risky Policy Giving Contractors Unrestricted Access to Naval Installations
Senator demands answers from Navy Secretary
September 17, 2013
WASHINGTON - Following Monday's tragic shooting-spree at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard, a watchdog report today detailed major deficiencies in a program that was used to grant contractor employees unrestricted access to Navy installations. In response, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill has written to the U.S. Navy Secretary demanding answers. McCaskill referred whistleblower allegations relating to the contract to the Inspector General in July 2012.
"This program wasted money, allowed dozens of felons access to installations they should never have had, and utterly lacked competent oversight," said McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight, who requested that the Inspector General review the contract after receiving a tip from a whistleblower in June 2012. "It's clear that its existence constitutes an unnecessary danger to the Navy and its personnel and it should be discontinued immediately."
The report from the Defense Department's Inspector General details fundamental problems in the Navy Commercial Access Control System (NCACS), which was designed to expedite access to Navy facilities for contract employees. Lax oversight and administration allowed 52 convicted felons access to Navel facilities, including those who had previously been convicted of charges such as "conspiracy to distribute" cocaine and "indecent liberties with a child."
Responding to the report, McCaskill has written to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus demanding answers.
"Yesterday's tragic and senseless violence highlights the importance of complete, thorough background investigations of the contractors and subcontractors granted access to Navy installations," McCaskill wrote. "In light of these events, I am also deeply concerned by the Inspector General's findings."
A copy of the Inspector General report is available online, HERE.
McCaskill's letter to Navy Secretary Mabus is available online and pasted below:
September 17, 2013
The Honorable Ray Mabus
Secretary of the Navy
U.S. Department of Defense
1200 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-1200
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am writing regarding the Navy's management and oversight of contractor access to Navy installations.
As you are aware, on September 16, 2013, at least twelve people were shot and killed at the Navy Yard complex in Washington, D.C. These killings were allegedly committed by Aaron Alexis, a Navy subcontractor employee with a history of misconduct, including previous arrests relating to the use of firearms. It appears that Mr. Alexis used his contractor access privileges to bring the weapons used in the killings into the Navy Yard complex.
On September 16, 2013, the same day, I received an advance copy of a report prepared by the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General. This report, which assessed the Navy Commercial Access Control System (NCACS), was initiated following my referral of whistleblower allegations relating to problems with the Navy's award and management of the contract for NCACS services. The contractor under the NCACS contract, Eid Passport, had the responsibility to perform background checks of the public record of any contractor employee voluntarily seeking recurring, unescorted access to any Navy installation. If the contractor employee failed the background check, the employee could submit a waiver request to the Navy installation commanding officer to see whether the Navy would accept the risk of granting access to the employee.
The Inspector General found that the Navy failed to adequately manage and oversee the contract. According to the Inspector General, the Navy's failure to follow federal and Defense Department requirements and its failure to provide installations with the resources to conduct contractor background checks resulted in contractors receiving access to Navy installations before any background check was completed. In addition, the Navy accepted background checks conducted by Eid Passport which relied on inadequate and unreliable public records databases and failed to include certain government databases as required. The Inspector General found that these failures placed military and civilian personnel "at an unacceptable level of safety and security risk." As a result, the Inspector General recommended that the Navy immediately discontinue its use of Eid Passport's vetting system.
The Inspector General also found that the Navy was unable to account for the costs of NCACS and that the Navy may have paid more than $1.1 million in unallowable costs for the program. The Inspector General also found that the Navy improperly restricted contract competition and has been receiving services from Eid Passport without a valid contract since November 2011.
Yesterday's tragic and senseless violence highlights the importance of complete, thorough background investigations of the contractors and subcontractors granted access to Navy installations. In light of these events, I am also deeply concerned by the Inspector General's findings. I would like to request a briefing for Subcommittee staff relating to the Navy's management and oversight of contractor access to Navy installations. This briefing should include detailed information relating to access for contractors under both NCACS and any alternative systems, including the Common Access Card. I request that this briefing take place on or before Friday, September 27, 2013.
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