Feds join $3.2 billion Stennis “whistleblower” lawsuit

The U.S. Justice Department has intervened in a so-called “whistleblower” lawsuit that accuses several companies and former government employees of rigging a winning bid on a $3.2 billion computer contract at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

The lawsuit, unsealed Wednesday by a federal judge in Gulfport, alleges three former or current federal employees conspired to steer the Stennis contract to Science Applications International Corp. A company started by one of those former employees had teamed up with Science Applications to bid on the contract.

The defendants allegedly shared secret information about the bidding process with Science Applications and chose a type of contract that favored the company’s successful bid in 2004.

The Justice Department estimates the scheme cost the federal government more than $116 million.

A notice filed by the Justice Department this week says the government is taking over only part of the suit, which private lawyers filed on behalf of David Magee, a former Stennis employee who reported the alleged bid-rigging scheme to federal agents and his superiors.

Lockheed Martin Corp. and a subsidiary that operates at Stennis also are named as defendants in the False Claims Act suit. The subsidiary, Lockheed Martin Space Operations, also had teamed up with Science Applications on the federal contract, the Justice Department said.

The federal government is intervening in the part of the case that includes allegations against Stephen Adamec and Robert Knesel, a former director and a deputy director of the Naval Oceanographic Major Shared Resource Center at Stennis; Haskin Dale Galloway, a former federal employee who is chief executive officer of Applied Enterprise Solutions; and Science Applications.