By Jeremy Herb
A draft Pentagon inspector general report found 52 convicted felons received routine, unauthorized access to military facilities.
The inspector general posted the report on its website on Tuesday under pressure from lawmakers, one day after 12 people were killed by a gunman at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.
It concluded that some of the problems in security were the result of Navy cost-cutting efforts and criticized the Navy for not providing the resources necessary for proper background checks of contractors.
The Navy did not “follow federal credentialing standards and DOD contractor vetting requirements and did not provide 7 of the 10 installations visited the appropriate resources and capabilities to conduct required contractor background checks,” the report concluded.
The report redacted the names of the installations, but congressional aides said one of the 10 was the Navy Yard.
Police have identified the shooter at the Navy Yard as Aaron Alexis, who worked as a contractor at the facility.
However, The Associated Press reported that Alexis was not vetted through the process reviewed by the inspector general.
While some have speculated that automatic spending cuts known as the sequester could have been to blame for security problems, a congressional aide said that the Navy’s cost-cutting mentioned in the report was in order to grapple with the $487 billion, 10-year Pentagon budget reductions from the 2011 Budget Control Act, and not the sequester.
Lawmakers are questioning why Alexis, who reportedly had a troubled past and an arrest record, was able to get a clearance to the Navy Yard.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a review of security procedures at U.S. military bases across the globe in the wake of the shooting, according to a senior Pentagon official.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said the report found the Navy had “critical flaws” in controlling access to military installations for nongovernment personnel, including contractors.
“While the timing of the delivery of this report was coincidental, I believe it to be relevant to physical security on military installations and to the committee's hearing tomorrow on the impact of defense cuts,” McKeon said in a statement.
The inspector general investigated a background check system for contractors who were not eligible for a Common Access Card, the most common type of identification for military bases.
The report found that the convicted felons received access to bases because Eid Passport, the company that conducted the background checks, did not identify the felony convictions in initial public records checks.
It found that the seven Navy installations granted access to contractor employees “without vetting employee identities” through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database and the Terrorist Screening Database.
In addition, nine of 10 Navy installations allowed temporary access for 28 days to contractors enrolled in the program prior to completing a background check.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) sent Navy Secretary Ray Mabus a letter Tuesday calling on the Navy to immediately put in place the report's recommendations.
"While there may not be a direct link between the result of this report and the horrific loss of life, I am deeply concerned about the current security situation at Navy facilities," Turner said in a statement.
This story was posted at 12:13 p.m. and updated at 4:41 p.m.