Source: The Post and Courier | Derrek Asberry | March 19, 2016
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions is being sued by the United States for allegedly using $5 million in federal money to make purchases for home offices, bids and proposals.
The lawsuit, filed Friday, claims SRNS and one of its parent companies, Fluor Federal, violated their contract with the Department of Energy by overcharging the government multiple times over an 8-year span dating to 2008.
SRNS, the Savannah River Site’s management and operations contractor, signed a cost reimbursement contract with the Energy Department in 2008.
Under the contract, SRNS collected invoices associated with its contract and drew daily from a federal credit line to pay for charges.
The federal government alleges that from Oct. 8, 2008, to Dec. 31 2015, SRNS and Fluor colluded on a “scheme to claim and receive payment from the United States for costs they knew to be unallowable.”
In that time span, SRNS claimed and received more than $8 billion in reimbursements for its incurred costs. Included in the reimbursements were 573 claims totaling $5.2 million in overcharges, according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, the first incident came in 2008 when Margaret Davis, a chief financial officer with SRNS, and a Fluor employee, reported that the contractor had $337.7 million in incurred costs for the year. After DOE reviewed the statement, it determined that home office and other unallowable costs totaled nearly $1.2 million of that, according to the lawsuit.
“SRNS and Fluor Federal knew this certification was false,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also mentions several former SRNS officials who alledgedly have been involved in these false claims over the years.
One example the federal government listed includes former SRNS President Garry Flowers and Deputy Chief Financial Officer Gary Ahlstrom who, in 2011, “falsely informed DOE that no home office expenses of Fluor Corp. and Fluor Government were being billed to DOE,” according to the lawsuit.
Under the False Claims Act, SRNS and Fluor, if found guilty, could end up paying three times the amount of the violation, or more than $15 million, and civil penalties ranging anywhere from $5,500 to $11,000 per violation.
In a combined statement from SRNS and Fluor, Barbara Smoak, an SRNS spokeswoman, said the two companies have been trying to settle the matter for five years.
“We are disappointed that the government has recast this contract dispute as a Civil False Claims Act matter and has refused to allow it to proceed under the Contract Disputes Act,” she said. “However, now that this action has been filed, we will vigorously defend our position.”
SRNS Solutions is a Fluor-led company. Other parent companies on the contract include Newport News Nuclear and Honeywell.