Deepwater whistle-blower 'has a conscience,' attorney says

Attorney says DeKort did everything possible to work within chain of command

Former Deepwater engineer Michael DeKort did everything possible to work within the chain of command to fix serious problems on the project, but he was forced to file a lawsuit after exhausting all other avenues, his attorney told Washington Technology today.

“Michael DeKort has a family, but he also has a conscience,” Samuel  Boyd, attorney for DeKort, said.

DeKort filed a False Claims Act lawsuit against the prime contractors for the Coast Guard project seeking $720 million in damages for the government, which was served on the defendants last week.

He alleges in the suit that Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. were seriously deficient in their performance resulting in many flawed systems on the Deepwater boats and a waste of taxpayer funds. The Coast Guard is seeking a refund for $96 million for unsound patrol boats produced under Deepwater.

DeKort, who worked as an engineer for Lockheed Martin on the Deepwater project in 2003 and 2004, said in the complaint that he personally observed shoddy practices in the development and installation of command and control information technology systems for the boats.

“Michael DeKort did not want things to go badly wrong with the Coast Guard project, and he did not seek counsel, nor money, nor anything, as he wandered up the chain of the command at Lockheed and at the DHS,” said Boyd, who is based in Dallas.

DeKort “tried everything he could to get the involved parties to resolve the problems without going external. He has a family, but he also has a conscience. Sometimes the conscience can make us unpopular with institutions,” Boyd said.

The Justice Department has decided not to intervene in the case, but may become involved later, Boyd said. The Justice Department asked for a delay in the proceeding to continue its own investigation, but was denied the full amount of time requested by the court, he added.

Boyd said the lack of Justice Department intervention is no reflection on the substance of the case. “Justice continues their investigation as of this date. They are in constant communication with the defendant,” Boyd said.

Justice officials were not immediately available for comment.

In False Claims Act lawsuits, plaintiffs can either pursue a case with the Justice Department, without the department, or they can work together. If the plaintiff wins, the government can collect damages of up to three times its losses and the plaintiff can collect 25 to 30 percent of the recovery amount. In this case, that would entitle DeKort to a maximum payment of $252 million if he wins.

Northrop officials declined comment, and Lockheed Martin officials said on June 3 they would “vigorously defend” against the charges, which they said they had investigated internally and found to be without merit.

 

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Reader Comments

Mon, Jun 8, 2009 Contract Worker for Fed DC region

Kudos to the preceding commentary! For over a decade, many glossaries and acronyms were collected and memorized to satisfy clients and respond to stipulated contract requirements. To tell the truth: It's about reading between lines written or responses created that make reality appear, not the transparency needed, and it's not been for taxpayer benefit. Profit and Greed are the keywords that have transcended the entire RFP process. Sadly, the end results are predictable, whether it's DoD base-building, vessel cconstruction, or (most blatantly) diminishing quality of life for people of all ages. I saw that first-hand, with student loan projects, international collaborations and hidden assets, and too many corrupt, vested interest scenarios. As a result, any relationships to former "honchos" or theirlocations have been severed, even in our country's worst recession. Hopefully, in this fed administration, most tainted, (so-called) service venues will be forced to radically shift their accountabilities and purpose for greater good.

Mon, Jun 8, 2009 also frustrated a fed

I have been in some type of Federal service in th emilitary, DOD and now another agency for over 25 years. I have seen numerous instances of poor contractor performance and some that were clearly fraudulent. Evena as a fed, I learned the hard way that the contrcator firms are in charge. I have been retaliated against multiple times and know firts hand th epressure and difficulty this man is undoiubtedly going through. I have no doubt he is correct and that he tried to get things resolved. I nhis entity as in all that I have been in, in reality, senior management does not wnat to get this fixed nor are they interested in the truth. There is no hope of things getting better as the whole world is well down the path of corruption. Just look at all the corrupt banking practices we as taxpayers are now paying for! (and yes, unfortunately, during a 5 year break in fed service I worked in that industry too. I left and came back to govt becuase I saw how wrong that was years ago as it was beginning) I wish this decent man the best and will pray for him and his family. Only God will be able to resolve the depravity we choose daily as a society. Fortunately He will and I believe sooner rather than later. For that, I am grateful and thank Him daily.

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