The Department of Justice has joined a whistleblower lawsuit accusing opinion polling services company The Gallup Organization of committing a multi-million dollar fraud on contracts with the U.S. Mint, the State Department, and other federal agencies.
On Monday, the court unsealed the complaint filed in October 2009 by former Gallup employee Michael Lindley. Lindley alleges the company violated the False Claims Act and the Truth in Negotiations Act (TINA) by providing the agencies with grossly inflated cost estimates on sole-source contracts to provide polling and consulting services. He claims Gallup inflated by two to three times the estimated number of hours required to complete the work. Lindley also claims that Gallup offered a job to a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official while bidding on a $12 million FEMA subcontract, exercised undue influence over the awarding of a $15 million contract by the U.S. Army’s Joint Contracting Command in Iraq, and fired him for his whistleblowing activities.
The government intervened in the lawsuit only with respect to Gallup’s contracts with the Mint and the State Department. In its notice announcing intervention, however, the Department of Justice indicated that it plans to assert new claims with regard to Gallup’s FEMA subcontract. Justice will file its own complaint in the matter within the next 90 days.
According to USAspending.gov data, Gallup has been awarded more than $175 million in federal contracts since 2000, a sizable portion of which have been with the Army and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for market research and public opinion services and technical assistance. USAspending.gov also shows that about 15 percent of Gallup’s contracts ($26.7 million) were awarded without competitive bidding. POGO readers know how deeply we believe in arm’s length negotiations and full and open competition as safeguards against the kinds of contracting abuses alleged in Michael Lindley’s complaint.
A Gallup representative said in a statement that "Gallup believes that the claims filed by the U.S. Department of Justice are wholly without merit. We intend to fight these baseless charges vigorously and look forward to resolving the matter in court."
Neil Gordon is an investigator for the Project On Government Oversight. Photo of Gallup headquarters in Washington, DC, by Danni Downing.Follow @NEGordon