Federal Manager's Daily Report

Out of 50 service contracts issued in 2020, auditors found that 94 percent did not include position investigative requirements. Image: JHVEPhoto/Shutterstock.com

The VA’s “high rate of noncompliance with executive orders, federal regulations, or VA policies for vetting contractor employees” could put “employees, veterans, information, and information systems at increased risk,” an inspector general audit has said.

It said that VA policies require all contractor employees to complete a fingerprint criminal history check—rules stricter than government-wide policies that require a risk and national security sensitivity designation, fingerprint check, background investigation, evaluation, and adjudication only for those who will work less than 180 days in a year.

However, in a review of 50 service contracts issued in 2020, auditors found that 94 percent did not include position designation records that established the position investigative requirements, and 34 did not include language to communicate vetting requirements to the contractor. In a review of 286 contractor employees, 215 did not have evidence of completed fingerprint checks and 225 did not have evidence that a background investigation was completed by an investigative service provider, it said.

“Unvetted contractor employees increase the risks to the health and well-being of veterans and VA employees, as well as the efficiency and integrity of VA services, government property, and information,” the report said. It said for example that none 73 unarmed contractor security guards at one facility were vetted, 38 of whom had records “including arrests and convictions ranging from petty misdemeanors to felonies such as disorderly conduct, domestic abuse, physical and sexual assault, financial card fraud, and terroristic threats.”

The IG also found “long-standing disagreements” among various offices in VA regarding responsibilities for vetting contractors, and that directives and handbooks on vetting contractor employees “are outdated and include conflicting or inaccurate information regarding roles and responsibilities.” It said that management generally concurred with the report’s recommendations.

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