- By Frank Munger
- Posted January 29, 2013 at 4 a.m.
Photo by ORNL.gov
The main entrance to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Triple Canopy Inc., a partner in the team that recently won a contract to provide security at ORNL, was accused last year of defrauding the U.S. government on a 2009-10 security contract in Iraq. (ORNL.gov)
Atomic City Underground
Triple Canopy Inc., a partner in the team that recently won a $181 million contract to provide security at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge facilities, was accused last year of defrauding the U.S. government on a 2009-10 security contract in Iraq.
The civil claim is still pending in federal court in Virginia.
Triple Canopy, based in Reston, Va., is a partner with Securiguard Inc. on a joint venture called National Strategic Protective Services, which received the five-year contract to provide protective force services at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, East Tennessee Technology Park and the Joe L. Evins Federal Building.
DOE announced the Oak Ridge security contract award Jan. 17. The transition of contractors is supposed to take place over the next two months, with National Strategic Protective Services replacing WSI-Oak Ridge. WSI had performed the security role in Oak Ridge since late 2000.
On Oct. 31 of last year, the Justice Department said it had filed a complaint alleging that Triple Canopy had billed the U.S. government for hundreds of foreign nationals who could not meet firearms proficiency tests and later falsified test results to cover-up the deficiencies. The government joined in the case filed earlier by a former employee of Triple Canopy under whistle-blower provisions of the federal False Claims Act.
“Under the act, the government has a period of time to investigate the allegations and decide whether to intervene in the action or to decline intervention and allow the whistle-blower to go forward alone,” the Justice Department said last year in announcing its decision the join the case against Triple Canopy.
The Justice Department’s complaint said Triple Canopy knowingly submitted claims for security guards who could not meet proficiency tests with AK-47 rifles and other weapons. As part of the its one-year, $10 million contract, Triple Canopy reportedly hired personnel to protect U.S. and allied personnel at the Al Asad Airbase, the second largest air base in Iraq.
A spokeswoman for Triple Canopy denied the allegations and said the company had filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Virginia to have the complaints dismissed.
“As Triple Canopy made clear in its motion to dismiss, it did not submit false claims to the U.S. government, and therefore the complaint lacks merit,” Jayanti Menches, the company’s director of marketing, said in an email response to questions. “Triple Canopy is confident the court will agree and will dismiss the complaint. Triple Canopy expects a ruling on its motion shortly.”
In a lengthy court memo that accompanied the motion, the company stated, “Notably, military officials at Al Asad were pleased with Triple Canopy’s performance there.”
It was not immediately clear how — or if — the outcome of the case in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., could impact the security contract awarded to Triple Canopy and its partners. In addition to Securiguard, Santa Fe Protective Services, a small business based in New Mexico, will serve as a subcontractor to the security team in Oak Ridge.
DOE spokesman Mike Koentop did not directly address that issue, but in an email statement, he said, “We were aware of the complaint during the procurement process. All (bidders) were considered against the same set of technical criteria, which included past performance, and NSPS was chosen because they provide the best value for the American taxpayer in providing this vital service.”
Stuart F. Delery, acting assistant attorney general for Justice Department’s Civil Division, last year said it was “unthinkable” for a government contractor to knowingly provide deficient security services — “especially in wartime.”
In another statement, Neil MacBride, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said, “We will not tolerate government contractors anywhere in the world who seek to defraud the United States through deliberate or reckless conduct that violates contractual requirements and risks the security of government personnel.”
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department said the agency would not comment additionally beyond what’s in the documents filed in U.S. District Court.
Triple canopy Inc.
Security company based in Reston, Va.
Founded in 2003
Partner in National Strategic Protective Services LLC, which was awarded five-year, $181.7 million contract for security at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, East Tennessee Technology Park and Oak Ridge Federal Building.
60 percent of its employees are military veterans.