A Parsons Corp. unit has agreed to pay the federal government $3.8 million to settle charges that it knowingly mischarged the Dept. of Energy for employees’ relocation costs for work on a project at DOE’s Savannah River site in South Carolina, the Dept. of Justice says.
DOJ, which announced the settlement on Sept. 2, said the claims resolved by the settlement were only allegations, adding that “there has been no determination of liability.”
Parsons Government Services Inc., the main construction contractor on the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) project at the Aiken, S.C., site, allegedly claimed and received reimbursement for relocation expenses for workers who were not eligible for the payments, DOJ said.
Parsons said in an emailed statement that it “denies the allegations set forth by the United States but has opted to settle the dispute because the corporation has determined that the costs of continuing the dispute would far exceed the amount in dispute and would continue to divert valuable resources from its core mission of supporting its customers.”
The reimbursements at issue occurred from Sept. 1, 2002, through July 15, 2011, according to the settlement document, which went into effect on Sept. 1.
DOJ said Parsons, under its contract, was supposed to take actions to ensure that workers met eligibility requirements to be reimbursed for moving, meals, lodging and transportation.
One requirement, for example, was that a worker had to have established a permanent residence at the location from which he or she was transferred to Savannah River, the department said.
The department said the U.S. “alleged that Parsons sought and obtained reimbursement for these relocation expenses under the … contract even for employees it knew did not qualify for these payments under the terms of the contract.”
A spokesman for U.S. Attorney William N. Nettles of the South Carolina District said that the amount of single damages at issue was between $1.6 million and $1.9 million.
He added that, under the False Claims Act, the government can seek up to three times the damages, and the settlement equals about twice the damages.
According to DOE, the facility will treat a form of radioactive waste that stemmed from nuclear material produced at the Savannah River complex in past decades. Construction on the Salt Waste Processing Facility began in 2003.