March 22, 2013 — When government contractors overbill the United States government, they violate the federal False Claims Act. The anti-fraud statute’s qui tam provisions reward whistleblowers with the courage to take action to stop the fraud. The federal False Claims Act enables a tipster to file a claim on the government’s behalf and then share a portion the resulting recovery. Routine overbilling scams are often uncovered by accounting employees who notice that the books don’t add up. Sometimes, workers are afraid to speak up, for fear of losing their jobs — especially when it seems clear that management is aware of the fraud.
Government Contractor Routinely Overbills Department of Energy for Years
CH2M Hill Companies Ltd. (CH2M Hill) and its subsidiary CH2M Hill Hanford Group Inc. (CHG) have reached a settlement of federal investigations into CHG’s alleged overbilling of the Department of Energy in violation of the False Claims Act. According to the Justice Department, CH2M Hill has consented to pay $18.5 million, to spend another $500,000 on systems to ensure the contractor’s accountability and to agree to a corporate monitor.
The Department of Energy’s Hanford Nuclear Site in southeastern Washington was used to make nuclear weapons in World War II and the Cold War. Pursuant to a contract between CH2M Hill and the Department of Energy, CHG worked at the Hanford site from 1999 to 2008, managing and cleaning 177 underground storage tanks that held a mixture of radioactive and hazardous waste. During that time, CHG hourly employees performing the task made a habit of overstating the number of hours they worked when they were required to work overtime. In particular, the workers refused to work any overtime, unless they could bill for eight hours of overtime, regardless of whether they worked eight hours. CHG managers approved of the practice and routinely submitted claims for payment to the Department of Energy that included the hours claimed on the fraudulent time records. In fact, some of CHG’s management even went so far as to cover up the fraud from internal auditors and law enforcement.
Employee Informants Combat Fraud With False Claims Act
Government collaborators deserve to understand their legal rights from the start. The knowledgeable lawyers at Waters & Kraus have long experience in representing tipsters in government contractor fraud cases. Contact us or call our whistleblower attorneys at 800.226.9880 to learn how we can protect and assist you.