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U.S. Forces Take Steps to Mitigate the Risk Contractors May Pose' which 
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September 22, 2006: 

The Honorable Christopher Shays: 
Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International 
Committee on Government Reform: 
House of Representatives: 

Subject: Military Operations: Background Screenings of Contractor 
Employees Supporting Deployed Forces May Lack Critical Information, but 
U.S. Forces Take Steps to Mitigate the Risk Contractors May Pose. 

Dear Mr. Chairman: 

Force protection has long been a challenge for Department of Defense 
(DOD) in the Middle East and elsewhere. Since the 1996 Khobar Tower 
attack in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. servicemembers, DOD and 
the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) have issued policies and procedures 
to help commanders, who are responsible for the safety and security of 
their installations, reduce the risk of terrorist attack and mitigate 
those risks that cannot be eliminated. However, DOD recognizes that all 
risks cannot be eliminated and terrorist attacks will still occur. To 
help installation commanders address force protection challenges, DOD, 
CENTCOM, and others, such as the Multi-national Forces-Iraq (MNF-I), 
provide guidance and assistance to installation commanders. For example 
DOD and CENTCOM have developed force protection standards that apply to 
installations in CENTCOM's area of responsibility, including Iraq and 
Afghanistan. These standards describe specific actions commanders 
should take to help prevent terrorist attacks. MNF-I has issued 
guidance to its subordinate commands directing among other things, the 
development of anti-terrorism plans, which include specific physical 
security measures. In addition, the Joint Staff periodically visits 
installations in Iraq and elsewhere to complete antiterrorism 
vulnerability assessments. The expert teams assess an installation for 
potential areas of attack and suggest actions the installation 
commander can take to reduce risks. Commanders are also provided with 
threat assessments which are updated as necessary, and routinely 
receive intelligence information, which could affect the security of 
their installations and forces. 

The U.S. military has long relied on contractors to provide a variety 
of goods and services to U.S. forces around the world, including those 
located in Iraq and Afghanistan. These services range from maintaining 
advanced weapon systems and setting up and operating communications 
networks to providing gate and perimeter security, interpreting foreign 
languages, preparing meals and doing laundry for the troops. DOD uses 
contractors for a variety of reasons, including a lack of skilled and 
qualified military personnel and the need to conserve scarce skills to 
ensure that they will be available for future deployments. DOD 
estimates that it has more than 50,000 contractor employees in support 
of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.[Footnote 1] Depending on the 
types of services being provided contractor employees may be U.S. 
citizens or third country nationals from countries such as the United 
Kingdom, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, or Pakistan.[Footnote 2] 
In addition, contractors are often encouraged to hire host country 
nationals from, for example, Iraq to help rebuild local economies and 
get local nationals back to work. 

While contractor employees can provide significant benefits to U.S. 
forces, contractor employees can also pose a risk to U.S. troops. For 
example, the terrorists who attacked the U.S.S. Cole were suspected to 
be contractor employees associated with its refueling operations. This 
attack led military officials to realize the risk that contractors 
could pose to the safety and security of U.S. installations and 
military personnel. The risk is increased when U.S. forces are involved 
in a military operation against an insurgency, as they are in Iraq. 
Military officials we spoke with from three units who served in Iraq 
told us that they believed they observed contractor employees pacing 
off military facilities in an attempt to provide information on the 
location of critical facilities to hostile forces operating outside of 
installations. Force protection officials from another unit told us 
that they found a contractor employee with sensitive information that 
could aid hostile forces. Additionally, contractor employees have been 
responsible for additional illegal activities, including acts of theft 
and black market activities. 

Background screenings of contractor employees can provide some insight 
into the likelihood that the employee may cause harm to U.S. troops and 
may deter some criminals and terrorists from working at U.S. 
installations. Although DOD is not required to screen contractor 
employees, in some situations, such as in Iraq, DOD is using biometrics 
to screen contractor employees for past criminal activity and security 
threats.[Footnote 3] Contractors that screen their employees generally 
do not use biometrics and depend on public records and commercial 
databases to screen potential employees. 

You asked that we review the process used to screen contractor 
employees who support U.S. deployed forces. Our objective was to 
determine the ability of DOD and contractors that support deployed 
forces to conduct comprehensive background screenings of employees and 
the steps installation commanders have taken to protect their troops. 
In our June 13, 2006, testimony before your committee on actions needed 
to improve the use of private security contractors in Iraq;[Footnote 4] 
we provided you with preliminary information about the difficulties 
contractors and DOD encounter when conducting background screenings of 
contractor employees. This correspondence updates our preliminary 
observations and responds to your request concerning the process used 
to screen contractor employees. 

To determine the ability of DOD and contractors that support deployed 
forces to conduct comprehensive background screenings of employees and 
the steps commanders have taken to protect their troops, we reviewed 
DOD, CENTCOM, MNF-I, and Multinational Corps-Iraq (MNC-I), polices 
including acquisition, force protection, base access, and biometric 
policies. We reviewed these policies to determine what, if any, 
background screening guidance and requirements were included in those 
documents as well as to determine who is responsible for installation 
safety and security. 

We traveled to Iraq to meet with officials from MNF-I and, MNC-I as 
well as the garrison commander of a large logistics base to discuss 
issues related to background screenings, DOD's biometric screening 
program, and actions installation commanders take to reduce the risk 
posed by contractors. We also traveled to various locations within the 
United States where we met with representatives of 11 units most of 
whom had recently returned from Iraq and were available to meet with 
us. We met with them to gain an understanding of the military's role in 
conducting background screenings, their ability to conduct screenings 
on third country and host country nationals, the challenges they faced, 
the limitations of background screenings, and steps they took to 
mitigate the risks contractors pose. Additionally, we met with 
representatives of CENTCOM, the Under Secretary of Defense for 
Intelligence, and representatives of DOD's acquisition community. 

We also interviewed officials from three background screening firms, 
one of whom served in an official capacity at a national background 
screening association, to obtain an understanding of the methods used 
by screeners and the challenges background screeners encounter when 
trying to screen foreign nationals. Our work focused on contractors who 
provide support to deployed forces in CENTCOM's area of operation and 
on those contractor employees who did not require security 
clearances.[Footnote 5] [Footnote 6] Enclosure I contains more detail 
on our scope and methodology. We conducted our review from August 2005 
to August 2006 in accordance with generally accepted government 
auditing standards. 

Results in Brief: 

DOD and contractors have difficulty conducting comprehensive background 
screening for U.S. and foreign nationals because of a lack of resources 
and inaccurate, missing, or inaccessible data. Because force protection 
officers, intelligence officers, and other officers have concerns about 
the comprehensiveness of background screenings and the risks 
contractors pose, installation commanders take steps to protect their 
troops. The information available to contractors that screen employees 
who live in the Unites States is limited to public information from 
county, state, or federal courts; state databases; or commercial 
databases, such as those that collect information on incarcerations. 
None of these types of searches guarantees a comprehensive background 
screening because these sources may not include all criminal data, 
among other things. Screening host nation and third country national 
employees can be difficult because of inaccurate or unavailable records 
in some countries. Also, officials from the background screening firms 
we spoke with told us that some foreign laws can restrict access to 
criminal records. Moreover, DOD's biometric screening programs are not 
as effective as they could be because the databases used to screen 
contractor employees include only limited international data, and some 
systems do not make all data accessible. Recognizing the limitations of 
data, military officials we interviewed who were responsible for 
security at installations in Iraq and elsewhere told us that they take 
steps to mitigate the risks contractors, particularly non-U.S. 
contractors, pose. For example, officials from most of the units we 
spoke with told us that contractor employees are routinely searched as 
they enter and leave the installation, while the majority of the units 
we spoke with told us that they interviewed some contractor employees 
before granting them access to the base. 

DOD and the Department of Justice reviewed a draft of this report and 
neither agency disagreed with the contents of the report. Both agencies 
provided technical comments which we have incorporated into the report 
as appropriate. 


DOD guidance does not require that contracts contain clauses requiring 
contractors to conduct screenings of their employees' backgrounds 
However, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD -12), which 
was issued in August 2004, and its implementing guidance, requires that 
the government develop standard forms of identification for all persons 
who need regular access to a federal facility, including U.S. military 
installations located overseas. Implementing guidance requires 
employees and contractors seeking access to federal facilities to 
undergo a National Agency check with written Inquiries (NACI) type 
background screening. [Footnote 7] In January 2006, the Federal 
Acquisition Regulation (FAR) was amended to require that all contracts 
(including DOD contracts) contain a clause mandating compliance with 
HSPD-12.[Footnote 8] In February 2006, we issued a report on issues 
related to implementing HSPD-12, which noted that doing a NACI on 
foreign nationals may be difficult because foreign nationals generally 
cannot have their identities verified through the standard NACI 
process.[Footnote 9] In order to conduct a NACI, an individual must 
have lived in the United States long enough to have a traceable history 
which may not be the case for foreign nationals. 

Some DOD contracts contain employee screening requirements; however, 
there are no DOD-wide standards or procedures for conducting these 
screenings when a contract requires background screenings. Furthermore, 
contracts do not provide guidance regarding the processes to be used or 
the depth of the investigations to be conducted, leaving the contractor 
to determine how to conduct the background screening. In addition, some 
contractors conduct background screenings as a result of company 
policy.[Footnote 10] When background screenings are conducted, 
contractors generally use firms that specialize in conducting 
background screening. 

Background Screenings of Contractor Employees May Not Be Comprehensive, 
but Military Officials Take Steps to Reduce the Risk. 

Military commanders and other officers are aware that DOD and 
contractors have difficulties conducting comprehensive criminal 
background screenings and take steps to reduce the risk contractors may 
pose to U.S. forces and installations. When performing background 
screenings of contractor employees who live in the United States 
background screening firms use records, such as court records, which 
are available to the general public, or databases maintained by 
commercial or state entities. Using these resources does not ensure a 
comprehensive background screening for reasons such as incomplete data. 
Contractors may find it difficult to complete background screenings of 
their Iraqi and third country national employees because of a lack of 
reliable information. Another factor that can contribute to 
difficulties is foreign privacy laws that make some criminal 
information inaccessible, according to screening firm officials. 
Moreover, DOD's program to biometrically screen all Iraqis and most 
third country national contractor employees who seek access to U.S. 
installations is not as effective as it could be for a number of 
reasons, including the limited number of international and foreign 
databases available for screening. However, military officials we spoke 
with recognize the risk contractors pose to U.S. forces in part because 
of the numerous difficulties in screening employees, particularly those 
who do not live in the United States and have taken steps, such as 
requiring escorts for some contractor employees, to reduce the risk. 

The Backgrounds and Identities of Contractor Employees May Be Unknown 
Because Important Data May Be Missing: 

Accurate information is not always available or accessible when 
contractors try to conduct criminal background investigations of U.S. 
nationals; third country nationals; and host country nationals, such as 
Iraqis. When screening firms conduct background investigations of those 
living in the United States, they generally use publicly available 
court records from the county, state, or federal level or search state 
criminal information repositories or commercial databases, such as 
those that collect information on incarcerations. However, none of 
these actions guarantees a comprehensive background check. For example, 
screening companies may not review federal court records if not 
directed to do so by the client. Moreover, background screening firms 
generally only check the records of the court that maintains the 
preponderance of criminal data and may miss some records maintained by 
specialized courts, such as domestic or family law courts. Furthermore, 
state repositories of information may not include all criminal data. 
For example, one official from a background screening firm explained 
that only some of the 88 counties in Ohio report crimes to the state 
repository. Similarly, the state of Illinois reported that in 2003 only 
59 percent of the computerized criminal history records they audited 
had complete information. In addition, commercial databases may not 
provide a complete background investigation because the databases may 
not contain the most recent criminal data; certain criminal offenses 
may not be reported; and commercial databases do not have standards on 
how its data should be collected and validated. 

Screening third country and host country nationals presents additional 
challenges according to background screeners to whom we have spoken. 
Officials from international background screening firms cited 
challenges in verifying criminal background information on foreign 
nationals for reasons such as the following. 

* Some contractors must rely on the applicant to provide all prior 
addresses. Since some countries, such as India, have no national 
criminal database and maintain criminal data at the local level, 
persons doing the background screenings may miss crimes that were 
committed in locations within the country if the applicant did not 
reveal all previous addresses. 

* Some countries lack criminal records. Officials from one firm we 
spoke with told us that they have encountered problems screening Iraqi 
nationals because the Iraqi police lack criminal records or criminal 

* Criminal records may be unreliable. Some countries experience high 
levels of corruption. According to screening firm representatives we 
interviewed. Records could be destroyed, changed, or not acknowledged. 

* Some countries lack national identification numbers. Without a 
national identification number the screener may not know if the person 
being screened was the person who committed the crimes cited in the 
court or police records. 

* Privacy laws limit access to data. According to officials from 
background screening firms, some countries do not permit criminal 
background searches of their citizens or limit the type of information 
that can be released to a third party. In other countries, criminal 
information cannot be given to third parties and is only released to 
the applicant who can then determine whether to release the 
information. According to screening company officials, there are often 
issues related to the authenticity of documents provided by applicants. 

Information regarding those who pose a national security risk typically 
is not accessible to background screeners. For example, both the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the International Criminal 
Police Organization (Interpol) gather information on terrorists and 
others who pose a national security risk, but this information is not 
available to commercial background screening firms. There are some 
online resources available but they may not provide reliable 
information. For example, some of the firms we spoke with told us they 
check the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control's Specially 
Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list, which consists of 
individuals designated as terrorists, narcotics traffickers, and those 
engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass 
destruction. However, this type of search is limited because the 
primary identifier is an individual's name and aliases, thus making it 
difficult to know if the person being screened is the same person cited 
on the list. 

As GAO reported in July 2005,[Footnote 11] screening for human rights 
violators is problematic, and others we have spoken with agree that 
screening individuals for human rights abuses or convictions is very 
difficult. First, there is no unclassified U.S. government or 
international database of persons accused or convicted of human rights 
abuses. Second, crimes that might be considered human rights 
violations, such as homicides, are categorized by their designated 
criminal offense code. Third, those accused of human rights violations 
are difficult to track because individuals accused of such crimes can 
simply change their identities and their connection to human rights 
abuses would be lost. 

The Effectiveness of DOD's Biometric Screening in Iraq Is Limited 
Because of Missing Data: 

DOD conducts biometric screening of most non-U.S. contractor employees 
needing access to installations in Iraq; however, the value of the 
screening process is limited because the databases used to screen 
applicants have little international biometric data. In March 2005, 
shortly after a dining facility bombing at a U.S. installation in Iraq 
killed 14 U.S. soldiers and wounded at least 50, the Deputy Secretary 
of Defense issued a policy requiring the biometric screening of most 
non -U.S. personnel seeking access to U.S. installations in Iraq. The 
goal of this policy is to improve force protection for U.S. and 
coalition forces in Iraq and provide positive identification of local 
and third country nationals accessing U.S. facilities. In July 2005 the 
Deputy Secretary of Defense issued an additional policy which requires 
that those seeking access to U.S. bases and installations in Iraq be 
fingerprinted, photographed, have their irises scanned, and be enrolled 
in one of two biometric systems DOD uses to gather the required 
biometric data. The two systems used by DOD are the Biometric 
Identification Systems for Access (BISA), a system specifically 
designed to facilitate base access, and the Biometric Automated Toolset 
(BAT), which was originally used in Iraq for purposes related to 
counterintelligence and detainee management and was later adapted for 
use as a base access control system. 

Biometric information from BISA and BAT is sent to the DOD's Biometric 
Fusion Center in West Virginia where it is merged with other biometric 
data collected in Iraq as well as other DOD biometric data to form the 
Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS). The Biometric Fusion 
Center screens the applicant's data against the ABIS system as well as 
the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System 
(IAFIS) database. The IAFIS database includes the fingerprint records 
of more than 51 million persons who have been arrested in the United 
States as well as information submitted by other agencies such as the 
Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and 
Interpol.[Footnote 12] 

While DOD's biometric screening process has successfully identified 
several persons seeking access to bases in Iraq who have criminal 
records in the United States, the lack of international biometric data 
limits its usefulness. According to an official from the FBI's Criminal 
Justice Information Services Division, the IAFIS database includes 
criminal fingerprint data from only a limited number of foreign 
countries because some countries are reluctant to share criminal 
history information and others do not have fingerprint repositories or 
do not collect fingerprints in a manner compatible with the FBI's 
system. In addition, although the IAFIS database includes fingerprint 
records submitted by Interpol, Interpol does not maintain a repository 
of all criminal offenses committed in the member countries. Instead, 
Interpol's criminal database is composed of wanted notices as well as 
some limited criminal histories. This information is submitted by the 
member countries, and is only retained for 5 years. 

System Limitations Impact the Effectiveness of DOD's Biometric 

BISA and BAT both collect biometric data from a number of sources in 
Iraq, including contractor employees working at installations in Iraq; 
however, because of system shortcomings, installation commanders, who 
are responsible for making base access decisions in Iraq, may not have 
all the information necessary to make an informed decision when 
deciding who will have access to a U.S. installation.[Footnote 13] As 
we noted earlier, biometric data from both BISA and BAT is sent to the 
Biometric Fusion Center where they are merged with other data to form 
the ABIS database. While data from BISA enters the ABIS database 
immediately, it takes, on average, 71 days for BAT biometric data to be 
merged into the ABIS database. As a result, any derogatory information 
entered into BAT in the weeks prior to a person applying for a BISA 
identification card might not be brought to the attention of the 
installation commander until after the applicant had been given access 
to the base. However, an official we spoke with in Iraq told us that 
eventually the installation commander receives this information and can 
revoke the employee's base access if necessary. Nevertheless, the 
employee may have been able to collect sensitive information or place 
the installation at risk during the interim. 

Another limitation of BAT is its inability to easily determine those 
who pose a threat to U.S. forces from those who do not. BAT was used in 
Iraq as a detainee management system and was later adapted as a base 
access control system to improve force protection. Iraqis and others 
suspected of being insurgents are enrolled in BAT. In addition, Iraqis 
and many third country national contractor employees have also been 
enrolled in BAT. To distinguish detainees from contractor employees, 
BAT contains a text field that provides a description of why an 
individual was enrolled into the system. However, an official 
responsible for BAT told us that the text field is not a required field 
and data may not always be entered in the field. Officials we spoke 
with who have served in Iraq explained that the inability to determine 
why an individual was enrolled in BAT was frustrating because they 
could not identify those who had been enrolled as detainees from those 
who had been enrolled because they are contractor employees. Moreover, 
the descriptive text field is not included when BAT biometric data are 
sent to ABIS. As a result, the screening of persons enrolling in BISA 
who have previously been enrolled in BAT will result in a fingerprint 
match that must be adjudicated by the installation commander, which 
adds to the commander's workload unnecessarily. 

Military Officials Responsible for Installation Security Recognize the 
Risk Contractors May Pose to their Installations but, Took Steps to 
Reduce the Risk: 

Force protection officers, military police, intelligence officers, and 
others from 10 of the 11 units we spoke with who served in Iraq as well 
as the installation commander of a large logistics base we visited in 
Iraq recognized the risk some contractor employees posed and took 
actions at their installations to minimize the risk.[Footnote 14] Army 
officials from nine units and officers from the one U.S. Marine Corps 
unit we spoke with were aware of the shortcomings of the background 
screenings that were done by contractors or DOD. For example, several 
officers we spoke with told us that they believed BAT was ineffective 
as a screening tool because of the length of time it took to receive 
information from the database. Also, they noted that they did not have 
access to a server that contained all data collected in BAT, and thus 
did not have access to information collected at other installations. 
Moreover, one commander told us that he had concerns about whether 
contractors and subcontractors were screening their employees. When he 
asked a logistical support contractor's representative about the 
screening process and for screening documentation, the representative 
did not know if the company had conducted background screenings and 
could not produce any documentation of background screenings. 

Given the inherent risk contractors may pose to military installations 
and the fact that DOD makes commanders responsible for the security of 
their installations, military commanders take a variety of actions to 
reduce that risk. Force protection officers and other military 
officials we spoke with who had served in Iraq described some of the 
steps that had been taken at their installations to reduce the risk 
posed by contractors. For example, host country and third country 
nationals were searched, prior to entering bases and installations, for 
contraband and other items that could jeopardize the safety of others, 
such as explosive materials, mobile telephones, and cameras. Officials 
told us that employees were also searched when they left the base. If 
employees were found with prohibited items, they could be arrested, 
detained, and lose their jobs. In addition the military requires that 
many contractor employees, particularly host country and some third 
country nationals be escorted while on the base or installation. At 
other installations some contractor employees are required to undergo 
interviews with military or contractor personnel trained in human 
intelligence gathering. For example at one base we visited in Iraq, the 
installation commander required that all third country nationals from 
selected countries in Southwest and Central Asia be interviewed. This 
was in addition to the MNF-I requirement that employees who come from 
countries on the State Department's list of State Sponsors of Terrorism 
be interviewed. Also, contractor employees must display badges at all 
times. These badges allow or restrict an employee's access to certain 
areas of the installation, such as the dining facility. Finally, an 
official noted that he did not let host country or third country 
nationals from other installations have access to his installation due 
to concerns with security and knowing how or if the employees had been 

Agency Comments: 

DOD and the Department of Justice provided technical comments on a 
draft of this report. Those comments were incorporated where 
appropriate. Neither agency disagreed with the contents of the report. 

We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional 
committees and the Secretary of Defense. We will also make copies 
available to others upon request. In addition, the report will be 
available at no charge on the GAO Web site at: [Hyperlink,]. 

Please contact me at (202) 512-8365 or if you or your 
staff have any questions concerning this report. Contact points for our 
Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on 
the last page of this report. 

Sincerely yours, 

Signed by: 

William M. Solis, Director: 
Defense Capabilities and Management: 

Enclosures-II: Scope and Methodology: 

Our objective was to determine the ability of the Department of Defense 
(DOD) and contractors that support deployed forces to conduct 
comprehensive background screenings of employees and the steps 
commanders have taken to protect their troops. To meet this objective 
we took several steps. 

First, we met with DOD and service acquisition officials to obtain an 
understanding of both the extent to which background screening 
provisions are included in contracts as well as to learn the screening 
practices of their contractors. We also met with 12 U.S. and foreign 
contractors that provide support to deployed forces in Southwest Asia 
to gain an understanding of what types of background screenings are 
required in their contracts with DOD and the methods they use to screen 
their employees. We selected these contractors based upon a convenience 
sample, where the selection of contractors from the population was 
based on their availability. The contractors reflected a wide range of 
services provided to deployed forces. For example, we met with 
contractors who maintain weapons systems such as the Army's Stryker 
vehicle; contractors that provide base operations support, such as food 
and housings; and contractors that provide technical services such, as 
linguists or security. The contractors represented both prime 
contractors and subcontractors. Additionally, we met with officials 
from three U.S. background screening firms, two of which had 
international affiliates, that conduct screenings both in the United 
States and internationally to discover what screening practices, 
methods, and standards are used in the United States and other 
countries as well as the challenges faced in performing background 
screenings of U.S. nationals, third country nationals, and host country 
nationals. The screening firms were selected because they conducted 
background screenings for contractors with which we met. We also met an 
official from the National Association of Professional Background 
Screeners to obtain an industrywide perspective on methods used by 
screeners and challenges background screeners encounter when trying to 
screen foreign nationals. 

To get a better understanding of the biometric screening programs being 
used in Iraq, we traveled to Iraq to meet with officials responsible 
for the biometric data systems to learn how the collection of biometric 
data is used to screen contractor employees and the compatibility 
between the systems. We also met with officials from the Biometrics 
Management Office and the Biometrics Fusion Center to obtain an 
understanding of the systems' limitations. In addition, we reviewed 
several DOD and Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I) policy documents 
dealing with base access and the biometric data systems. 

To obtain a better understanding of the military's views and concerns 
regarding background screenings, we met with commanders from 11 units 
from 4 units (3 Army divisions and a Marine Expeditionary Force) who 
served in Iraq between 2003 and 2006 to discuss their ability to 
conduct background screenings of contractor employees who performed 
work at and had access to installations in Iraq. Specifically, we met 
with force protection officers, military police, intelligence officers, 
and others responsible for base operations and logistical support to 
gain an understanding of the military's role in conducting background 
screenings, their ability to conduct screenings on third country and 
host country nationals, the challenges they faced, the limitations of 
background screenings, and steps they took to mitigate the risks 
contractors pose. These units were selected because, for the most part, 
they had recently returned from Iraq, and unit members had not moved to 
other locations. Additionally, we traveled to locations within 
Southwest Asia, including Iraq, to meet with commanders responsible for 
force protection at deployed locations to discuss the methods they use 
to conduct background screenings, actions taken to mitigate the risk, 
and their ability to protect their troops. We also reviewed DOD, U.S. 
Central Command's (CENTCOM) and MNF-I documents related to installation 
security and force protection. 

In addition, we surveyed the contractor representatives from a random 
probability sample of 114 contracts providing combat support services 
with the principle place of performance in CENTCOM's area of 
responsibility originated or ongoing from the beginning of FY 2004 
through May of 2005. Contracts through the end of FY2005 were included 
in the universe for three large contracting offices (Kuwait, Qatar, and 
Afghanistan), however, the majority of contracts included in the 
universe originated or were ongoing though May of 2005. The contracts 
were randomly selected from the universe of 560 contracts from the DD- 
350 database providing combat support services during the time period. 
We understood that achieving a survey response rate high enough to 
generalize to the population of DD-350 combat support services 
contracts would be difficult but acknowledged that gathering greater 
breadth of information through a random probability sample would be 
worthwhile. The questionnaire was developed with social science survey 
specialists in collaboration with GAO subject matter experts and was 
pretested with contractor representatives from 4 firms. The web based 
survey was administered between the dates of May 3, 2006 and July 14, 
2006. We sent one follow-up e-mail message to all nonrespondents after 
the questionnaire had been online for 2 weeks. We then contacted 
remaining non-respondents by telephone after 5 weeks and sent a final 
email follow-up message after 9 weeks. We obtained responses from 35 
contractor representatives for a response rate of 31.58 percent. The 
survey responses offer information from 36 contracts with 35 
contracting firms providing combat support services and are not 
representative of the universe of all contracts in the CENTCOM area of 
responsibility. We include information obtained from selected survey 
questions to supplement information we obtained through site visits. 
The information from the following questions was used in this report: 

[After being asked to indicate the nationalities of people hired by 
your firm to perform this contract] If you indicated "Nationals from 
other third countries" in the previous question, please describe the 
nationalities of these employees hired by your firm to perform this 

Why does your firm perform these checks for this contract? (Check all 
that apply.) 

Required as part of the contract: 

Required as part of company standard policy: 

Other reasons: 

Don't know: 

Our work focused on contractors who provide support to deployed forces 
in CENTCOM area of operation and on individuals who did not require 
security clearances. We conducted our review from August 2005 to August 
2006 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing 

We visited or contacted the following organizations during our review: 

The Department of Defense: 

* Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Intelligence, the Pentagon: 

* Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense, Acquisition, Technology and 
Logistics, the Pentagon: 

* US Central Command, Tampa, Florida: 

* Defense Contract Management Agency, Alexandria, Virginia; Atlanta, 
Georgia; Houston, Texas; Baghdad, Iraq: 

* Personnel Security Research Center, Monterey, California: 

* Defense Manpower Data Center, Arlington, Virginia: 

* Multinational Force-Iraq, Deputy Chief of Staff Resources and 

* Multinational Force-Iraq, Deputy Chief of Staff Intelligence: 

* Multinational Force-Iraq, Deputy Chief of Staff Strategic Operations/ 
Force Protection: 

* Multinational Corps-Iraq, Operations Directorate/ Antiterrorism/Force 
Protection Office: 

Department of the Army: 

* Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army--Policies and Procurement, 
Arlington, Virginia: 

* Coalition Forces Land Component Command, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait: 

* Stryker Brigade, Fort Lewis, Washington: 

- Stryker Brigade: 3RD Brigade, 2ND Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, 

- Stryker Brigade: 1ST Brigade, 25TH Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, 

- Task Force Olympia, Fort Lewis, Washington: 

- 593RD Corps Support Group, Fort Lewis, Washington: 

* Army Materiel Command, Fort Belvoir, Virginia: 

- Army Field Support Command, Rock Island, Illinois: 

- Army Field Support Battalion--Southwest Asia, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait: 

* 3RD Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia: 

- Division Staff, Fort Stewart, Georgia: 

- 26TH Field Support Battalion, Fort Stewart, Georgia: 

- 2ND Brigade Combat Team, Fort Stewart, Georgia: 

- 703RD Field Support Battalion Fort Stewart, Georgia: 

- Division Support Brigade, Fort Stewart, Georgia: 

- 87TH Combat Support Battalion, Fort Stewart, Georgia: 

* 3RD Corps Support Command, Balad Iraq: 

* Camp Anaconda Garrison Command, Balad Iraq: 

* US Army Intelligence and Security Command, Fort Belvoir, Virginia: 

* US Army Central Command (rear), Fort McPherson, Georgia: 

* US Army Central Command (forward), Camp Arifjan, Kuwait: 

* Army Contracting Agency, Fort Lewis, Washington; Fort McPherson, 

* Area Support Group-Kuwait Provost Marshall Office, Camp Arifjan, 

* Biometrics Management Office, Arlington, Virginia: 

* Biometrics Fusion Center, Clarksburg, West Virginia: 

* Biometrics Fusion Center (Forward), Camp Victory, Iraq: 

Department of the Navy: 

* 1ST Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California: 

Other Government Agencies: 

* Department of Justice, Washington, DC: 

- FBI, Washington, DC: 

- Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Clarksburg, West 

* Department of State: 

- Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Arlington, Virginia: 

- US Embassy Kuwait, Kuwait City, Kuwait: 

* US National Central Bureau of International Criminal Police 
Organization (INTERPOL), Washington, DC: 

Background Screening Firms: 

* First Advantage, St. Petersburg, Florida: 

* First Advantage International, Bangalore, India: 

* Kroll Background America, Westminster, Maryland: 

* Kroll Background International, Nashville, Tennessee: 

* Background Information Services, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio: 

* National Association of Professional Background Screeners, Cleveland, 


* Kellogg, Brown and Root, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; Houston, Texas; Dubai, 
United Arab Emirates: 

* Triple Canopy Inc., Herndon, Virginia: 

* L3/Titan, Reston, Virginia: 

* CACI International, Arlington, Virginia: 

* Risk Management Solutions, Panama City, Florida: 

* Ahmadah General Trading & Contracting Co., Camp Arifjan, Kuwait: 

* British Link Kuwait, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait: 

* Tamimi Global Co., Camp Arifjan, Kuwait: 

* Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport Co., Camp Arifjan, Kuwait: 

* IAP World Services, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait: 

* ITT Industries, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait: 

* Prime Projects International, Dubai, United Arab Emirates: 

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgements: 

GAO contact: 

William M. Solis, (202) 512-8365 or 


In addition to the contact named above, major contributors to this 
report were David A. Schmitt, Assistant Director; Carole F. Coffey, 
Assistant Director; Vincent Balloon, Grace Coleman, Jennifer Cooper, 
Laura Czohara Wesley Johnson, Kenneth E. Patton, and James A. Reynolds. 



[1] Neither DOD nor the services know the exact number of contractors 
working in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are issuing a report in fall 2006 
that will discuss this and other contractor-on-the-battlefield issues 
in more detail. See also GAO, Military Operations: Contractors Provide 
Vital Services to Deployed Forces but Are Not Adequately Addressed in 
DOD Plans, GAO-03-695 (Washington, D.C.: June 24, 2003). 

[2] A third country national is a person working for a contractor who 
is neither a citizen of the United States nor the host country. Data 
from our survey of contractors who provide support to deployed forces 
revealed that contractors hired employees from 18 different nations, 
including the United Kingdom, Russia, South Africa, Egypt, Bangladesh, 
India, the Philippines, and Nepal. 

[3] A biometric measures a person's unique physical characteristics 
(such as fingerprints, hand geometry, facial patterns, or iris and 
retinal scans) or behavioral characteristics (voice patterns, written 
signatures, or keyboard typing techniques) and can be used to recognize 
the identity, or verify the claimed identify, of an individual See GAO, 
ELECTRONIC GOVERNMENT: Agencies Face Challenges in Implementing New 
Federal Employee Identification Standard GAO-06-178 ( Washington, D.C.: 
February 1, 2006) 

[4] GAO, Rebuilding Iraq: Actions Still Needed to Improve the Use of 
Private Security Provides, GAO-06-865T, (Washington, D.C.: June 13, 

[5] DOD grants a security clearance to individuals needing access to 
classified information after conducting a personnel security 
investigation. DOD has established standards for these types of 
investigations which include examining a person's loyalty to the United 
States, financial situation, and criminal history. We have ongoing work 
looking at the process used by the government to conduct and grant 
security clearances for contractors, and as a result, we limited our 
work for this report to those employees not requiring a government 
issued clearance. 

[6] Contractors who deploy with the forces are employees of system 
support and external support contractors and associated subcontractors 
who are specifically authorized in their contracts to deploy and 
provide support to U.S. military forces in contingency operations. A 
contingency operation is a military operation that is either designated 
by the Secretary of Defense as a contingency operation or becomes one 
as a matter of law. 

[7] A NACI consists of searches of the Office of Personnel Management 
Security/Suitability Investigations Index, the Defense Clearance and 
Investigations Index, the Federal Bureau of Investigation 
Identification Division's name and fingerprint files, and other files 
or indexes when necessary. It also includes written inquiries and 
searches of records covering specific areas of an individual's 
background during the past 5 years (inquiries sent to current and past 
employers, schools attended, references, and local law enforcement 

[8] Contracts awarded prior to October 27, 2005, must be amended to 
include the new FAR clause by October 2007. 

[9] GAO-06-178 

[10] Our survey of contractors that support deployed forces revealed 
that 3 firms that conducted background screenings did so because it was 
required by the contract while 21 firms conducted background screenings 
on their employees to satisfy internal company policies. 

[11] GAO, Southeast Asia: Better Human Rights Reviews and Strategic 
Planning Needed for U.S. Assistance to Foreign Security Forces; GAO-05- 
793 (Washington D.C.: July 29, 2005). 

[12] States voluntarily provide fingerprint records to the FBI for 
inclusion in the IAFIS database. According to FBI officials, not all 
persons arrested and convicted of crimes in the United States are 
included in the IAFIS database. 

[13] The MNF-I base access policy states that installation commanders 
have the responsibility to make all base access decisions and makes the 
commanders responsible for adjudicating derogatory information found on 
individuals seeking base access. 

[14] DOD's antiterrorism standards (DOD Instruction 2000.16) require 
that each unit have a designated antiterrorism officer who acts as the 
commander's advisor on force protection. See DOD Instruction 2000.16: 
DOD Antiterrorism Standards, June 14, 2001, standard E3.1.1.6 page 12. 

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