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By Michael Isikoff

The company accused by the Department of Justice of faking hundreds of thousands of background checks of intelligence, defense and other workers says it "acted decisively" after learning of the allegations.

USIS, which on its website calls itself "the leader in federal background investigations," said in a statement provided to NBC News that "a small group of individuals" was responsible for the bogus checks and that their conduct was "contrary to our values and commitment to exceptional service."

"Since first learning of these allegations nearly two years ago, we have acted decisively to reinforce our processes and management to ensure the quality of our work and adherence to OPM requirements," it said. "We appointed a new leadership team, enhanced oversight procedures, and improved control protocols. From the outset, we have fully cooperated with the government’s investigation and remain focused on delivering the highest quality service under our OPM contracts.”

A company source, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity, said that employees involved in the fraud "were terminated" and that all of the individuals cited in the complaint — including top USIS executives — no longer work for the firm. The source also stressed that the background checks of Edward Snowden, accused of releasing NSA documents, and of Aaron Alexis, the gunman in the Washington Navy Yard shooting, were not among those cited as fraudulent in the federal complaint. (The complaint does not identify any of the allegedly improper checks.)

Sen. Claire McCaskill, who chairs a Senate panel that has been investigating USIS, said the Justice complaint highlights the need for legislation requiring tighter oversight of federal contractors performing background checks.

“By now, the stunning failures of this company—and the resulting threats to our national security—are well documented,” she said. "But we can’t wait for the next disaster before tackling something as serious as lapses in protecting our nation’s secrets and our secure facilities.”