In Her Own Words: After shooting, examine contractor hiring practices
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. speaks as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stands at left during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
In the wake of Monday’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte called for a hearing by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to examine federal contractor hiring practices at military installations. Here’s what she wrote:
Dear Chairman (Tom) Carper and Ranking Member (Tom) Coburn:
Like all Americans, I was deeply saddened by the tragic events at Washington Navy Yard on Monday. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims of these horrific crimes. In light of this tragedy, I write to request that the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hold a hearing to address contracting hiring practices and security procedures at our nation’s military installations.
Media reports indicate that the alleged gunman at Washington Navy Yard, Aaron Alexis, was a former Navy Reservist and current contractor with a troubled past, including several incidents which reportedly came to the attention of law enforcement.
While any instance of lawbreaking by a service member or government contractor with a security clearance warrants scrutiny, this case is particularly disturbing given Alexis’s pattern of troubling behavior. In addition to multiple incidents with both civilian law enforcement and his military superiors, reports indicate that Alexis sought mental health assistance from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
While we have yet to paint a full picture of Alexis’s past or the sequence of events leading up to and on the morning of Sept. 16, 2013, we must move quickly to fully understand contracting hiring practices at military installations to ensure that federal contractors are qualified, fit to serve, and don’t pose a danger to the workforce, or our national security.
In the wake of this tragedy, we must thoroughly review and fix deficiencies within existing federal contracting hiring practices that the alleged Washington Navy Yard gunman exposed and exploited to ensure the safety of all service members, civilian workers and contractors.
It is with this in mind that I request a committee hearing as soon as possible to examine these important issues. Thank you for your consideration.
(U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte is a Republican from New Hampshire.)