When Blake Percival graduated from college, money was so tight for his young family that he opted not to pay the $25 for the printed copy of his diploma. He persevered and worked his way through a number of law enforcement related jobs until he landed at US Investigations Services (USIS). USIS was a private company that was tasked with conducting background checks for people applying for security clearances with the Federal Government. Previously, this process was completed by the government but it was outsourced to USIS in 1996 as a way to reduce costs. There was an expectation that the need for security clearances would decline with the end of the Cold War. However, after 9/11, the need for security clearances soared. Background checks assigned to USIS included Edward Snowden and Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis.
Blake did well at USIS and moved up the ranks. By the time he was promoted to the Director of Fieldwork Services in 2011, he was making $110,000 plus a bonus and stock options. He had come a long way from the decision not to purchase his college diploma. However, something troubling came with his new title. Blake discovered that USIS was charging the government for background checks that were never completed as way to boost company revenue and, ostensibly, company bonuses. USIS employees described this activity to Blake as “dumping”. As one example, the investigations later revealed that one group of 4 employees submitted approximately 13,000 background clearances – in a period of one week!
Of course, Blake knew this was wrong and took action. “As of this moment, we do not dump,” he announced to the people under his purview. “If anyone tells you to dump, you send them to me.”
Blake’s group didn’t dump but they also did not meet their revenue goals the next month nor the following month. As a result, Blake was pressured to comply with the dumping practice. He had finally reached a point in his life where he was financially comfortable and it would have been easy for him to follow the pack; but Blake could not and would not violate his ethics and he refused to dump cases. It did not take long before he was fired and asked to waive his right to file a False Claims Act in exchange for severance pay.
However, Blake stuck to his principles, refused to sign the severance agreement and began the road to a False Claims case. Like many whistleblowers, there is a price to be paid for doing what’s right. Blake was blackballed by his chosen profession, his family was forced to move in with relatives and their bank account dwindled to $54 before Blake and the Department of Justice prevailed against USIS.
YEARS FOR THE CASE TO SETTLE
FRAUDULENT BACKGROUND CHECKS, each was a case of fraud
FEDERAL AGENCIES CREATED BECAUSE OF THESE REVELATIONS (N.B.I.B.)
MILLION DOLLAR WHISTLEBLOWER REWARD (APPROX.)