We were planning to continue our series on BBP 3.0 (Better Buying Power) today but have chosen instead to highlight an news article appearing in yesterday's Tri-City Herald about an individual going to jail on account of timecard fraud. Its not that this particular employee engaged in timecard fraud mind you - the Judge stated his crime was one of omission, not commission. He was in a position where he should have known that timecard fraud was occurring and he had a responsibility to report it, but didn't.
This case is an old one involving a lot of employees working for a contractor performing cleanup work at one of DOE's clean-up sites. We've reported on it several times as individual cases have moved through the legal system. The essence of matter was employees charging overtime for hours never worked. One of the most troubling aspects of this case, in our mind, was that Government investigators installed GPS devices on employee vehicles to track where their actual locations when they should have been at their work site. It is somewhat surprising to us that the Government's GPS caper hasn't gotten more publicity.
In any event, according to the news article, one of the supervisors of the 10 defendants who have pleaded guilty and awaiting sentencing was sentenced to 30 days in prison, three months of home detention and a fine of $34 thousand after pleading guilty to timecard fraud.
The Judge in the case said she was surprised that the Justice Department reduced its recommendation from the federal sentencing range of eight to 14 months. Then she added that the supervisor's crime was one of omission rather than commission. He know there was a high probability of timecard fraud occurring at the Hanford tank farms. Workers are required to report suspected fraud involving federal funding.
Last December, the Justice Department dropped criminal charges on another manager at this contractor in a plea deal where he agreed to pay $44 thousand in civil penalties.
Contractors need to understand that the Government can be very serious about timecard accuracy - especially when it comes to large dollar cost-type contracts. Costs under those contracts are passed right along to the Government so the expectation is that contractors will have robust internal controls, policies, procedures, practices, and monitoring to preclude this type of fraud, and other types of irregularities from occurring in the first place.