The Justice Department, on behalf of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), has reached a settlement with TVA contractor Bartlett Holdings, Inc. (Bartlett), d.b.a. BHI Energy/Sun Technical Services, over alleged violations of the False Claims Act.
Bartlett was alleged to have violated the False Claims Act by knowingly concealing or knowingly and improperly avoiding an obligation to refund over-payments received from TVA for work performed on the project to complete the construction of Watts Bar Nuclear Plant Unit 2. Under the terms of the settlement, Bartlett agreed to pay the United States $2.8 million.
In January 2008, Bartlett entered into a subcontract with Bechtel Power Corporation, TVA’s engineering, procurement and construction contractor on the Watts Bar Unit 2 project, to furnish qualified personnel to Bechtel for the project. Bartlett’s subcontract, which was funded by TVA, provided for Bartlett to be reimbursed its actual costs for wages and related expenses, including payroll taxes and insurance incurred for employees working on the project. However, the United States alleged that Bartlett received payments from TVA in excess of actual costs for payroll taxes and insurance and knowingly failed to timely identify, report and refund those over-payments to TVA as required under the subcontract.
“The issue of losing public funds through fraud, waste and abuse is all too well known,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nancy Harr. “Since these losses usually result in increased costs to the public, parties that contract with the government or its agencies must be held to the terms of their contract.”
This settlement resulted from a joint, comprehensive investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the TVA Office of Inspector General (TVA-OIG). In January 2014, the TVA-OIG Audit Division initiated an audit of payments to Bartlett under its subcontract. The U.S. Attorney’s office and TVA-OIG Investigations Division subsequently joined the investigation following the filing of a qui tam or whistleblower complaint in May 2014.
Members of the public are reminded that the claims settled by an agreement such as the one in this case are based on allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.
Source: May 5, 2016 announcement by the Dept. of Justice at: https://www.justice.gov/usao-edtn/pr/united-states-settles-false-claims-act-allegations-against-tva-contractor-bartlett