Contractors that accessed Obama's passport file named
Updated at 7:35 p.m.
- By Ben Bain, Nick Wakeman
- Mar 21, 2008
UPDATED—The contractors involved in the improper accessing of passport file of presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) were working for Stanley and The Analysis Corporation, according to the State Department.
On March 20, State announced that three people, in three separate incidents, looked at Obama’s passport file. Today, it was revealed that Clinton’s and McCain’s files also were accessed. The breaches involving fellow candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and John McCain (D-AZ) remain under investigation.
The State Department said that it would have to await the results of an investigation to determine which laws may have been broken with the breaches, but noted in a statement late today that “access to passport records by contractors who do not have a need to know the information would violate the Privacy Act.”
Two of the people involved in the incidents with Sen. Obama’s were Stanley subcontractors. Stanley said that each of the employees was fired the day that the unauthorized search occurred.
The company also said that prior to employment Stanley and subcontractor candidates undergo several background checks and Privacy Act training.
Stanley also said it would cooperate with the government on any investigation related to the incidents and was unaware of its employees or subcontractors having been involved in the breaches into Sens. McCain or Clinton’s passport files.
An attempt to reach The Analysis Corporation late Friday after the State Department announced their involvement in the incident was unsuccessful.
Stanley has won several contracts from the department to process passport applications. On March 17, the company announced it won a $570 million contract with the department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs/Passport Services Directorate. Stanley oversees operations and the printing, quality control and mailing of passports and other travel documents at all 18 passport processing sites nationwide.
The system breached by the contractors holds approximately 180-200 million records, the State Department said on Friday.
Software to detect unauthorized access to files identified the breaches quickly, a State spokesman said.
“It's our initial view that this was imprudent curiosity,” spokesman Sean McCormack said March 20.
The three incidents involving Obama occurred at three different locations by three different people on Jan. 9, Feb. 17 and March 14. One of the people also accessed McCain’s file, several news organizations have reported. The breach involving Clinton’s file reportedly occurred in 2007 and involved a trainee, who was admonished but not fired.
The department’s inspector general is investigating the breaches to see how and why they occurred and what if anything may have been done with the information in the files, however the State Department noted that under the Inspector General’s act it does not have the power to compel cooperation from former employees or contractors. Former employees or contractors, however, could be served with a grand jury subpoena to force testimony the State Department statement said.
Nick Wakeman writes for Washington Technology, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.
Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.
Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.