CH2M Hill has finished paying $500,000 for systems to detect and deter timecard fraud at the Hanford nuclear reservation as part of a settlement agreement reached in 2013, according to the Department of Justice.
The company spent $29,000 for modifications to CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co.’s timecard system to allow automatic verification of time worked by the Department of Energy contractor’s employees.
The remaining $471,000 was paid directly to the Department of Energy. The money may be used only for additional systems to detect and deter timecard fraud and abuse at Hanford, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern Washington.
The agreement requires CH2M Hill to provide a full accounting of the $500,000 to ensure that it came from the company’s own money and was not charged directly or indirectly to the Department of Energy.
The $500,000 was part of an $18.5 million agreement to settle civil and criminal allegations of widespread timecard fraud. The fraud cost taxpayers millions of dollars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The fraud occurred when CH2M Hill Hanford Group was the site’s tank farm contractor from 1999 to 2008. Its contract had expired when the settlement agreement was reached, but CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. was serving as the central Hanford and groundwater cleanup contractor. Its employees were not implicated in the case.
The Department of Justice said CH2M Hill Hanford Group would offer workers overtime in eight-hour shifts to induce them to work the shifts. When the work was completed, sometimes hours early, workers would go home but claim a full eight hours of work on their timecards.
While the vast majority of people working at Hanford are law abiding, my office, and its law enforcement partners, remain committed to doing all we can to root out and hold accountable all persons and entities guilty of stealing federal taxpayer dollars.
Michael Ormsby, U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington
CH2M Hill was reimbursed by the Department of Energy for wages paid to workers.
The modifications to the timecard system at CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. were reviewed and approved by an independent corporate monitor, whom CH2M Hill hired for three years as part of the settlement agreement. The monitor was given full access to all CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. personnel, systems and locations to make sure violations did not occur.
CH2M Hill also agreed to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of those involved in fraud and that obligation continues, according to the Department of Justice.
After reaching the settlement agreement, the Department of Justice prosecuted employees. Nine hourly workers pleaded guilty to charges related to timecard fraud and were sentenced to fines up to $165,000.
In addition, 10 managers and supervisors were indicted. Two pleaded guilty rather than go to trial, with one receiving a fine and the other sentenced to 30 days incarceration and three months home detention.
After a jury acquitted four of the defendants, the remaining four had criminal charges dropped when they agreed to pay civil penalties.
“While the vast majority of people working at Hanford are law-abiding, my office, and its law enforcement partners, remain committed to doing all we can to root out and hold accountable all persons and entities guilty of stealing federal taxpayer dollars,” said Michael Ormsby, the U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington, in a statement.
His office also is committed to helping institute solutions to deter crimes, as the money for timecard system improvements demonstrate, he said.
CH2M Hill is restricted in discussing the matter by the settlement agreement and declined to comment.