October 7, 2021. 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.
If you would like to report government contractor fraud, you can contact attorneys at Tycko & Zavareei LLP. Eva Gunasekera and Renée Brooker are former officials of the United States Department of Justice and prosecuted whistleblower cases under the False Claims Act. Renée served as Assistant Director at the United States Department of Justice, the office that supervises False Claims Act cases in all 94 United States District Courts. Eva was the Senior Counsel for Health Care Fraud and enforced anti-fraud government contractor laws. Eva and Renee now represent whistleblowers. For a free consultation, you can contact Renée at [email protected] (tel.: 202-417-3664) or contact Eva Gunasekera at [email protected]. You can also go to Tycko & Zavareei LLP’s website for whistleblowers to learn more at https://www.fraudfighters.net/.