The False Claims Act invites private-citizen whistleblowers to file lawsuits against companies that they believe are engaging in fraud, waste or abuse in government contracting. When these lawsuits are successful, the whistleblower can receive a substantial portion of the money recovered as a reward for their service. Sometimes, the federal government intervenes in these lawsuits, which does not affect the whistleblower's rights but sometimes improves the lawsuit's chances for success.
The Justice Department has accused defense contracting giant Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation (NGSC) of overbilling for employee hours on two Air Force battlefield communications contracts. It has now agreed to pay $25.8 million to settle those claims without admitting responsibility. When added to previous repayments, the company will have paid $27.45 million to reimburse the government. In addition, it has agreed to forfeit $4.2 million to resolve criminal allegations brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California.
The Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco is being redeveloped into housing and commercial space. Between 1946 and 1969, however, the former Navy shipyard was involved in activities that created significant amounts of radioactive waste. First, the facility was the location of top-secret nuclear tests. Second, it was where ships were decontaminated after returning from hydrogen bomb tests. Cleaning up the radioactive waste is expected to cost at least $1 billion.
A military contractor that manufactures helicopter landing systems for U.S. Navy destroyers has recently settled a claim that it knowingly substituted cheaper steel than the Navy contract specified but still billed for the contract amount. This violated the federal False Claims Act, according to the Justice Department. Indal Technologies, Inc., a division of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, has agreed to pay $3.5 million to resolve the allegations.