WASHINGTON Senator Bill Nelson said contractor Booz Allen Hamilton had hired an employee convicted of lying to the U.S. government for a position in which he would handle classified documents.
Nelson, a Florida Democrat, called on the Senate Intelligence Committee to conduct an investigation broadly into how contractors are handling employees with top secret clearance.
He said he is alarmed by the combination of this incident and the more recent revelation that a National Security Agency contractor who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton leaked sensitive government documents.
Nelson, in a letter to Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein, said these incidents merit a probe "to determine more broadly how private contractors are managing the hiring and monitoring of employees who have top secret clearance from the government."
A spokesman for Booz Allen Hamilton declined to comment.
Nelson said he was reminded earlier this week of a situation in which Booz Allen Hamilton hired a man to work as a counter-threat finance analyst at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.
Before being hired by Booz Allen Hamilton, the man had received one of the highest levels of security clearances despite having been previously convicted in 2008 of lying to government officials and sentenced to three years of probation, Nelson said in the letter.
The incident received media coverage in 2011. It is not clear exactly when Booz Allen Hamilton hired the man.
"Is there a pattern with these contractors that they are not minding the store?" Nelson separately told reporters.
Nelson said in his letter that he agrees with Feinstein that legislation may be needed to limit or prevent certain contractors from handling highly classified data. Feinstein last week called for that type of legislation.
He also said the Senate Intelligence Committee should probe how private contractors screen, hire and monitor employees who need top secret clearance.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Writing by Karey Van Hall; Editing by Will Dunham and Tim Dobbyn)