On January 5, the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) awarded a contract worth up to $33 billion over 10 years to a privately held equipment supplier called Atlantic Diving Supply, Inc., or ADS.
Only small businesses were legally permitted to bid on the contract, and ADS has been accused of defrauding the Pentagon by falsely claiming to be a small business. According to the most recent official tally of top government contractors, ADS is ranked as the 24th largest federal contractor in fiscal year 2019 with more than $3 billion in sales and ADS is the only “small business” among the top 50 that year.
ADS’s gargantuan new award for work on a Pentagon logistics program landed after the company’s majority owner, Luke M. Hillier, personally agreed to pay $20 million in 2019 to settle civil charges that his company defrauded the same program by falsely claiming to be a small business, among other accusations. An ADS spokesperson told the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) that Hillier is “unavailable for comment” and emails to him went unanswered.
In the months before Hillier’s settlement, three non-ADS executives including a former state politician pleaded guilty in a felony scheme. According to the Justice Department, Hillier — referred to as “Person Y” in court records — allegedly created the scheme to allow ADS to benefit from contracts set aside by law for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, often women- and minority-owned ventures. Companies controlled by those non-ADS executives then allegedly would partner with ADS to perform work on the contracts. The arrangement allegedly allowed ADS to benefit even though ADS is mostly owned by Hillier and thus was not eligible to bid on the contracts directly.
Keep reading this article at: https://www.pogo.org/investigation/2021/02/how-a-small-business-kingpin-wins-billions-in-defense-contracts/