52 Felons Given 'Routine Unauthorized Access' to Navy Installations

By Melanie Arter | November 1, 2013 | 11:02am EDT

 Washington Navy Yard (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

(CNSNews.com) – A DoD official told the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Thursday that about 50 convicted felons were given access to Navy installations without the proper checks, and no one has been held accountable.

A Sept. 16, 2013 DoD inspector general’s report, which was released the same day as the Navy Yard shooting, found that the Navy Commercial Access Control System (NCACS) “did not effectively mitigate access control risks associated with contractor installation access” because Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNJC) officials tried to “reduce access control costs.”

“As a result, 52 convicted felons received routine, unauthorized installation access, placing military personnel, dependents, civilians, and installations at an increased security risk,” the report said.

The IG report found that the convicted felons received “routine, unauthorized access to Navy installations for 62 to 1,035 days since Eid Passport's initial public record checks did not identify the felony convictions. This placed military personnel, dependents, civilians, and installations at an increased security risk.”

On Sept. 16, 2013, 12 people were killed when 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, a contractor from Fort Worth, Texas, opened fire on workers at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Alexis then turned the gun on himself. Alexis’ employer – a company called The Experts – was aware of Alexis’ mental instability but failed to report it, Stephen Lewis, deputy director for personnel, industrial and physical security policy, testified Thursday.

In addition to Alexis’ mental illness, Lewis was questioned about the vetting process of contractors who were allowed access to military installations.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) asked Lewis, “My subcommittee has learned that we’ve had a bunch of felons on Navy installations. We have learned that the Navy was giving these contractors 28 temporary passes at the get-go without any checks on anybody. Is that true?”

“This was the subject of a DoD IG report, and the Navy has looked into these specific circumstances,” Lewis said. “There were about 50 people identified who were convicted felons who were given access without the proper checks, and the Navy has taken corrective action, removing individuals who do not warrant access from the installation.

“In other instances, given the date that some of the felony convictions were quite old, made a decision to allow them to continue to have access, but the fundamental issue is there was a failure to conduct the required checks for installation access, and the Navy has taken corrective action on that,” Lewis added.

Although Lewis said the process has since been corrected, he could not say whether the same thing was happening with other branches of the military. He also admitted that no one has been held accountable for it and the investigation into the matter is “ongoing.”

“Just one follow-up, just for information. Whoever made the decision to allow that to happen, to go around? Were there any consequences to that individual that actually made the decision?” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) asked Lewis.

“There is an ongoing Navy review of what occurred at the Navy Yard that day to include all of the aspects that went into that, and that’s an ongoing review,” Lewis replied.

Lewis said there will be an “OMB final review of our overarching security practices,” and Lewis expects to be part of that review.

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