Group says SAIC investigated before
POGO sees similarities to current SAIC False Claims allegations
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Jul 08, 2009
Science Applications International Corp., which is facing charges of federal bid rigging in a False Claims Act court case, also might have “dodged a bullet” on similar charges related to an Energy Department contract two years ago, according to an advocacy group.
The Justice Department announced on July 2 that it was joining a whistle-blower’s False Claims Act lawsuit alleging that SAIC participated in a scheme to gain an unfair advantage in a $3.2 billion General Services Administration information technology support services contract for a Navy facility in 2004. SAIC has denied the charges and said it would fight the lawsuit.
But SAIC might have been the subject of similar accusations in the past on a different contract, according to the Project on Government Oversight watchdog group. The group is asking, “Did it Happen Before?” in a July 7 blog entry
POGO said it obtained several documents through a Freedom of Information Act pertaining to a DOE investigation into SAIC contract activities starting in 2001.
The investigation looked at possible violations involving a $90 million SAIC contract to provide IT services to a DOE facility in Washington State.
“The investigation, carried out by the GSA, DOE, FBI and Defense Criminal Investigative Service determined that a number of questionable activities took place during the solicitation process which gave SAIC an unfair competitive advantage,” Neil Gordon, investigator for the watchdog group, wrote in the blog.
A DOE program manager allegedly met privately with SAIC, gave SAIC private information and tailored the solicitation so that SAIC would win the contract. The case resulted in an administrative punishment of the program manager but no apparent actions against SAIC. The investigation was closed in 2007.
“The five-year investigation resulted in no punishment to SAIC, although the company probably dodged a bullet,” Gordon wrote. At one point, a federal prosecutor accepted the case for prosecution, but then referred it back to DOE, Gordon wrote.
Melissa Koskovich, a spokeswoman for SAIC, said SAIC did nothing wrong in the case reviewed by POGO. “The record shows that this matter was thoroughly investigated by the government and that no action against SAIC was taken. That outcome speaks for itself,” Koskovich said today.
The current False Claims Act lawsuit accuses SAIC, subcontractor Applied Enterprise Solutions and its chief executive officer, and two Naval officials of conspiring to bias the GSA contract selection in favor of SAIC.
The case was filed by whistle-blower David Magee, a former employee at the naval center. Under the False Claims Act, a private party, known as a "relator," can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the amount recovered. The U.S. government may recover three times the amount of its losses, plus penalties
Koskovich said the company is cooperating and that the allegations are false. “We believe the government’s legal claims are without merit, and we intend to vigorously defend against them,” she said.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.