US: New Hire Highlights Altegrity's Growing Ambition

Publisher Name: 
Washington Post

For more than 12 years, Falls Church-based USIS went about its business
quietly scrutinizing the backgrounds of thousands of individuals who
needed security clearance to work in the U.S. government or in the
private sector.

Not anymore.

USIS, which renamed itself Altegrity last month, has ambitions of
becoming much more than an investigation and data-collection company.

Altegrity announced two weeks ago that Los Angeles Police Chief
William J. Bratton, best known for reducing crime in New York City
under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the 1990s, would become chief executive
of its new Altegrity Security Consulting. The new unit is part of the
privately held company's plan to increase revenue well beyond its
current $1 billion.

"We have aspirations to be substantially larger, so we are hiring
Bill Bratton and bringing in a series of experts in different specific
areas that can specifically target how you use information and to give
great advice," said Altegrity chief executive Michael G. Cherkasky, who
was hired a year ago from Marsh & McLennan, the giant security
consulting and risk management firm.

The firm will have lots of competition. Dyncorp, SAIC, Lockheed Martin and Kroll all overlap to some extent with Altegrity.

Bratton and Cherkasky know each other well. They worked together
when Bratton served as a consultant to Kroll, the Marsh & McLennan
company that competes in the same security sector as USIS.

Bratton plans to leave his position in Los Angeles this October and lead the company from New York City.

Altegrity's mission is to train and consult U.S. and foreign police
departments, as well as to advise foreign governments on how to build a
criminal justice system. Most of the foreign programs will be carried
out through the U.S. State Department.

Specifically, Altegrity has its eye on about a dozen State Department
contracts expected to be awarded in the coming months. The contracts
are aimed at helping post-conflict democracies rebuild their public
safety infrastructures.

"It's a multibillion-dollar market opportunity," said David Baron,
who has been a financial adviser to USIS for the past nine years and is
currently head of the U.S. financial sponsors advisory group for
Macquarie Capital.

Bratton brings to the job extensive experience in public safety as
well as a list of seasoned subordinates on which he can draw. Many
members of his brain trust from Los Angeles and elsewhere are likely to
join his management team at Altegrity.

"One of my great strengths is I surround myself with very smart people," Bratton said.

He headed the Bratton Group for six years after leaving the New York
City job, and said he has experience and contacts throughout Central
and South America, which could bring business to Altegrity.

"That's a part of the world where I could proactively reach out and
indicate that I and this newly formed company are available," Bratton
said.

Altegrity was launched when the federal government privatized the
investigative branch of the Office of Personnel Management in July
1996. The company, which began with 600 employees, started with a
five-year contract to provide security clearance background
investigations. Its original name was U.S. Investigations Services
Inc., and it was an employee-owned company.

The firm has grown to more than 8,000 employees worldwide, with
2,000 based in Northern Virginia and the District. USIS performed more
than 2 million investigations for 95 federal agencies and organizations
last year, according to an Altegrity spokesman.

The Carlyle Group invested in USIS in October 1999 as a financial
and strategic partner. USIS employees cashed out in November 2003 when
another investment firm, Welsh, Carson, Anderson and Stowe, acquired a
majority stake in the company. Providence Equity Partners, a large,
Rhode Island-based private-equity firm, bought USIS in August 2007.

Separate business units operate under the Altegrity umbrella brand.

Its core USIS background-check business, which employs 3,000
investigators in North America alone, also provides training and
consulting to foreign governments on how to build a military.

USIS has trained more than 10,000 people around the world in police,
anti-terrorism and counterinsurgency techniques. The firm currently has
teams in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Indonesia and Pakistan, according
to a spokesman.

The company's HireRight unit supplies background and drug screening
for companies, including more than a quarter of the U.S. Fortune 500.

The firm's Explore Information Services unit monitors the driving
records of more than 30 million drivers for U.S. auto insurers.

AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering
  • 23 Private Security
  • 106 Money & Politics
  • 187 Privatization