WASHINGTON -- The owner of the company that employed Aaron Alexis, whom police have identified as the Navy Yard shooter, said he would not have hired the Fort Worth, Texas, computer technician if he had known about some of his brushes with the law, and he said the military should have shared more information with the company about Alexis' history.
The complaints of Thomas Hoshko, chief executive officer of The Experts, come amid calls from several members of Congress, including the senator with lead federal oversight over Washington and federal employees, for a serious examination of how federal agencies and government contractors conduct background checks on potential hires.
A Defense Department report released Tuesday raised questions about whether the Navy had been properly conducting checks on government contractors.
Mr. Hoshko said he was disturbed to learn from news outlets about police reports alleging that Alexis shot out a construction worker's tire in Seattle in 2004 and fired a bullet through his Fort Worth apartment's ceiling in 2010, barely missing his upstairs neighbor. "If I can find this out just by doing a Google search, that is sad," he said. "Anything that suggests criminal problems or mental health issues, that would be a flag. We would not have hired him."
Alexis was working with The Experts on its subcontract with Hewlett-Packard to update and replace computers for Navy and Marine Corps installations.
The company confirmed Tuesday morning that Alexis had been working since July at six different installations -- including Arlington, Va., Cherry Point, N.C., and Stafford, Va. He had worked for several days before the shooting at the Navy Yard. Alexis' work at the sites was previously unknown.
Mr. Hoshko said he and other contracting firms rely on the military to approve the security clearances of their employees, and he fears that budget crunches have led to faster and less-thorough checks. His company did not do its own background check, but did conduct a new drug test, part of its standard procedure for updating security clearances and for new employees.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairman Thomas Carper, D-Del., said he plans to investigate "a number of things" in coming weeks, especially how Alexis could have been employed by a federal contractor despite his arrest records and treatment for mental illness.
Mr. Carper said he doesn't know whether automatic federal budget cuts contributed to potential cutbacks in security at the Washington Navy Yard, but that his panel will also explore those concerns.
"If that's the case, then that's just one more reason why the Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- and the president need to find a way to approve a common-sense budget plan that eliminates sequestration," Mr. Carper said.
After massive secret document leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and Monday's shootings at the Navy Yard, several questions need to be answered about how contractors with certain clearances are vetted, said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "Is it because we don't have the resources, or is the system fundamentally broken? I don't know, but all the things I've heard about the Navy Yard, that question looms the largest for me," he said.
Capitol Hill staff familiar with the Defense Department report said it is highly critical of the Navy program for cutting corners, letting several dozen convicted felons through the system. It is unknown whether Alexis was vetted through this program.
The report, concluded before the Navy Yard shooting Monday, focuses on the Navy Commercial Access Control System, which provides security reviews for contractors whose employees need access to Navy installations, including the yard, said staffers of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who chairs the subcommittee that reviews contracting for the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.