WASHINGTON — The Navy has been lax in screening some of its civilian contractors who work at its bases and has provided routine access to 52 convicted felons, according to a Pentagon inspector general’s report that was released Tuesday, a day after a mass shooting at Washington’s Navy Yard.
In many cases background checks were only cursory and other times temporary badges were provided without any checks, according to the report.
The Navy, however, said the report’s findings were not relevant to the shooting at the Navy Yard, since it did not address the type of access that Aaron Alexis, the man identified as the shooter, had.
“The access control system referred to in the Defense Department’s IG report does not apply to the type of access Mr. Alexis had to the Navy Yard,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby, chief of information for the Navy. “Therefore, we cannot point to its findings as relevant in preventing his brutal attack.”
The Navy said that the inspector general’s report examines a different type of access than that provided to Aaron Alexis, the man police identified as the shooter at the Navy Yard.
The inspector general report examined base access for vendors and other contractors who do not have the common access card but need routine access to a base. The screening was done by contractors,
By contrast, Alexis had a secret clearance and had a valid common access card for the Navy Yard, which is a different process. He worked as a subcontractor.
The inspector general report focused on “the Navy commercial access control system, which provides for base access privileges of vendors, contractors, suppliers and service providers,” the Navy said in a statement.
“Contractors who need continued enduring access to government facilities and information systems are typically issues common access cards” and are vetted through a different system, according to the statement.
A Navy official who asked not to be identified because she was not authorized to discuss the case publicly said the process for common access cards is more stringent.
Alexis had a history of erratic behavior and scrapes with the law.
The report included comments from Navy officials who disputed some of the recommendations and findings.
Still, the report raises questions about overall security at naval installations. It comes as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a security review at military installations around the world in the wake of the shooting that killed 12 people.
The report said contractors were often given temporary passes without being vetted. In other cases, the company doing the background checks used unreliable or out-of-date databases, the report said. The background checks are often done by private contractors.
One employee was given a base pass in 2009. He failed a renewal check in 2012 when a 2000 felony conviction for cocaine distribution surfaced.
“This contractor employee had unescorted access to a Navy installation for 1,035 days before the felony conviction was identified,” the report said.
— USA Today