TrellisWare Technologies, Inc. has agreed to pay $12,177,631.90 to settle civil False Claims Act allegations that it was ineligible for multiple Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) contracts it entered into with the Defense Department.
The SBIR program is designed to stimulate technological innovation by funding small businesses to engage in federal research and development efforts. To be considered a small business for purposes of SBIR awards, a contractor must not be majority owned by another company.
Between 2008 and 2015, TrellisWare was awarded multiple SBIR contracts to provide the Navy, Army and Air Force with a variety of technology services and products involving communications and signal processing systems, including wireless networks used in military tactical environments. TrellisWare self-certified that it met the small business size requirements for eligibility to receive SBIR funding. But based on certain disclosures that TrellisWare later made about its ownership relationship with ViaSat, the government conducted an investigation into TrellisWare’s eligibility for SBIR awards. The government contends that TrellisWare was not eligible for SBIR awards because it was actually a majority-owned subsidiary of ViaSat at the time it was awarded and performed on SBIR contracts.
This matter was investigated by auditing personnel of the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in coordination with Special Agents of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; Naval Criminal Investigative Service; Army Criminal Investigation Command; Air Force Office of Special Investigations; and Small Business Administration, Office of the Inspector General.