For the first time in its 20-year history, a federal contracting firm is filing a bid protest to overturn the $190 million award of a border security contract to a rival accused of fraud by theÂ Justice Department.
Contractor USIS, which vettedÂ NSAÂ leakerÂ Edward SnowdenÂ and Navy Yard shooterÂ Aaron Alexis, won the contract over Virginia-based FCi Federal last month, prompting a bipartisan backlash and demands from lawmakers that Department of Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson turn over records on the contract.
The contract award by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, came months after USIS was hit with aÂ Justice DepartmentÂ complaint accusing the firm of falsely certifying that hundreds of thousands of background checks were completed.
â€œThis is the first time in our companyâ€™s 20-year history that we have challenged a contract award, and we take our decision to file this protest very seriously,â€ FCi Federal chief executive Sharon D. Virts said in a statement, explaining the bid protest.
â€œWe are surprised that a company under federal investigation for defrauding the government while conducting security-clearance background investigations can bid for and win government contracts, let alone one directly connected with our nationâ€™s border security,â€ she said.
But USIS officials defended the award Tuesday, saying in a statement that the contract was awarded to the firmâ€™s professional services division after a â€œrigorousâ€ two-year competition.
The professional services division isnâ€™t involved in the background-check business, which was the subject of theÂ Justice DepartmentÂ complaint, according to the company.
â€œAs we have previously stated, USIS continues to cooperate fully with the governmentâ€™s investigation and in no way condones the behavior that is alleged to have occurred in the past,â€ the company said.