Richard Priem, a former project manager for Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), has come forward as a whistleblower against the company, and exposed SAIC’s fraudulent contract procurement practices. By doing so, Mr. Priem initiated an investigation into allegations that company inflated prices for a grant-funded training program sponsored by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Now, Mr. Priem is being awarded $1.88 million based upon the recovery of funds and penalties stemming from a lawsuit filed against the SAIC under the whistleblower provisions of the federal False Claim Act.
“The federal False Claim Act has incentivized whistleblowing, allowing those who expose the fraudulent conduct of companies to share in the recovery of funds illegally obtained,” commented Chris Paulos, an attorney with theLevin, Papantonio law firm who handles cases based upon state and federal Qui Tam laws. “Whistleblowers have become the most effective means of prosecuting fraud against federal and state treasuries.”
Under the training program, the SAIC trained first responders on how to avert and respond to terrorist attacks. The investigation into SAIC’s billing procedures for the training program revealed that the company was dishonest in its initial proposal to the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. The allegations by Mr. Priem, and investigated by the U.S. government, stated that the SAIC paid their personnel far less than the amount the company agreed to in order to win procurement of the contract. By doing so, SAIC pocketed the leftover money as profit.
According to U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales of the District of New Mexico, the SAIC has agreed to settle claims that prices were inflated for the training program by paying out $11.75 million, which was reported by Biz Journals. Mr. Priem is now entitled to a share of the settlement under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claim Act.
Krysta Loera is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.