Supply Chain

Whistle-blower Lawsuit Gets DoJ Backing

Justice Department alleges that three companies ''systematically solicited and/or made payments of money and other things of value'' to secure gove...
Dave Cook and Stephen TaubApril 20, 2007

The Department of Justice has joined three whistle-blower lawsuits involving alleged kickbacks to secure technology contracts with government agencies.

The suits were originally filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Arkansas, by Norman Rille and Neal Roberts. They allege that three companies — Hewlett-Packard, Accenture, and Sun Microsystems — submitted false claims to the United States for information technology hardware and services on numerous government contracts from the late 1990s to the present.

According to a statement by the Justice Department, the defendants “systematically solicited and/or made payments of money and other things of value” to a number of companies, which amounted to kickbacks and undisclosed conflict-of-interest relationships.

“The Department of Justice is acting in this case to protect the integrity of the procurement process,” said Peter Keisler, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, in a statement.

Rille and Roberts filed their lawsuits under the whistle-blower provisions of the False Claims Act, which enables private parties to file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the recovery. Under the act, the government may recover three times the amount of its losses plus civil penalties.

“We’re confident we acted appropriately and in compliance with the law,” says Roxanne Taylor, managing director of corporate communications for Accenture. “We intend to defend our position and expect to prevail.”

In an E-mail, HP affirmed that it is “proud to partner with the government and is confident its business practices are appropriate. We plan to vigorously defend this action and look forward to demonstrating that HP has done nothing wrong.”

Sun has fully cooperated with the audit process, it stated in an E-mail, “and welcomes the opportunity to address the claims in a fair and impartial forum. The company continues to take pride in its relationship with [the General Services Administration] and the many government agencies that rely on Sun products and services.”