You never know when those old FOIA documents gathering dust in your office will come in handy.
POGO found out last week. The day before the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it had joined a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging that Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) participated in a bid-rigging scheme to win a $3.2 billion General Services Administration (GSA) information technology contract back in 2004.
The GSA sought bidders for a contract to provide support services to the NAVO MSRC--the Naval Oceanographic Major Shared Resource Center at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. In April 2004, the GSA awarded the contract to a consortium consisting of SAIC and subcontractors Applied Enterprise Solutions (AES) and Lockheed Martin Space Operations. The lawsuit accuses SAIC, AES, AES president Dale Galloway, and two NAVO MSRC officials--director Stephen Adamec and deputy director/contracting officer technical representative (COTR) Robert Knesel--of conspiring to rig the solicitation process in favor of the SAIC team and later attempting to cover up the scheme by destroying documents and computer hard drives. Adamec and Knesel allegedly shared information with SAIC that was not provided to the other bidders and put language in the solicitation that favored the SAIC team. SAIC denies the allegations.
When we heard about the lawsuit, bells went off. Something about it seemed oddly familiar. Here's where those old FOIA documents come into play: Last December, POGO submitted a FOIA request to the GSA Office of Inspector General (GSA-OIG) to obtain closed investigation files in cases involving several contractors in our Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, including SAIC. In response, the GSA-OIG sent approximately 1,000 heavily-redacted pages of documents from an investigation of SAIC that was closed in 2007.
The investigation file didn't seem particularly important or useful until last week's announcement. It prompted us to take another look at the documents, compiled during an investigation into possible Procurement Integrity Act (PIA) violations involving another GSA contract, a $90 million contract to provide IT services at the National Counterdrug Center (NCC) at the Department of Energy's (DOE) facility in Hanford, Washington in 2001. (The first few documents in the case file, which provide a good overview of the case, are posted here.)
The investigation, carried out by the GSA, DOE, FBI, and Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), determined that a number of questionable activities took place during the solicitation process which gave SAIC an unfair competitive advantage. A DOE program manager (name redacted) met privately with SAIC and gave it information that was not disclosed to the other potential bidders and tailored the language in the solicitation so that it would fit SAIC's qualifications. Sound familiar?
As the documents illustrate, the five-year investigation resulted in no punishment to SAIC, although the company probably dodged a bullet. At least one senior acquisition official at the GSA (name redacted) believed there was sufficient evidence to conclude that SAIC had violated the PIA. In August 2006, the GSA-OIG provided information to the GSA Debarment Section about the “inappropriate business ethics behavior” of SAIC; however, a recent check of the Excluded Parties List System shows no record of SAIC ever having been suspended or debarred. At one point, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia accepted the case for prosecution, but it later declined to prosecute and instead referred the case to the DOE, which handed out the only known sanction in the whole affair--a relatively lenient administrative punishment of the unnamed program manager.
Freedom of Information Act, we salute you.
-- Neil Gordon