November 27, 2021

Volume XI, Number 331

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GovCon Fraud Grounded: Whistleblower Receives Reward for Reporting Aviation Equipment Government Contracting Fraud

The United States Department of Justice settled a case against aviation equipment defense contractor Airbus Defense and Space Inc. (ADSI) for charging improper fees on government contracts. Under the terms of the settlement, the defense contractor paid $1,043,475 to resolve False Claims Act allegations. A former employee of the government contractor reported these improper fees and will receive $157,220 of the government’s recovery.

According to the allegations, the contractor included an unapproved cost rate on contracts, did not accurately disclose fees, and worked out a storage overbilling scheme with a third-party contractor, causing the government to pay more for storage than necessary. To disguise an additional and sometimes undisclosed indirect cost rate, the contractor added what they called an “Orlando Factor” to various price proposals for 62 contracts. Indirect cost rates are a complex portion of government contracting arrangements whereby a contractor attempts to obtain reimbursement for their company’s operational costs. From 2016-2017, this aviation equipment contractor’s “Orlando Factor” was applied in addition to their indirect cost rate approved by the federal agencies with which they were contracting.

The allegations further describe additional fees the contractor tacked onto equipment acquisitions in violation of federal acquisition regulations. Moreover, the contractor listed an unverified affiliate fee on its proposals. Finally, the contractor inflated storage costs by a factor of 10, resulting in General Dynamics passing on $80,000 in storage fees to the U.S. Navy instead of $8,000 in fees.

Defense contracting fraud harms taxpayers; inflating the cost of obtaining equipment can make defense budgets spiral out of control. This particular contractor seems to have found multiple ways to hide costs and pad proposals so as to turn a profit above and beyond their cost of doing business.

A former employee of ASDI reported these fraudulent practices and is being rewarded for speaking up, including receiving funds to pay for their expenses, attorneys’ fees, and costs. The Department of Justice needs whistleblowers to report government contracts fraud. Last year, only 35 defense fraud cases were filed by whistleblowers. With $720 billion spent, more fraud is out there.

© 2021 by Tycko & Zavareei LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 280
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About this Author

Jonathan K. Tycko leads the Whistleblower Practice Group of Tycko & Zavareei LLP

In recent years, the laws of the United States have undergone a whistleblower revolution. Federal and state governments now offer substantial monetary awards to individuals who come forward with information about fraud on government programs, tax fraud, securities fraud, and fraud involving the banking industry. Whistleblowers also now have important legal protections, designed to prevent retaliation and blacklisting.

The law firm of Tycko & Zavareei LLP works on the cutting edge of this whistleblower revolution, taking on even the most complex and confidential whistleblower...

202-973-0900
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