A whistleblower who sued Lockheed Martin Corporation on behalf of the United States has helped the government recover $4.4 million in a settlement resolving allegations that the defense contractor sold defective communications systems to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The whistleblower lawsuit, filed by a former Lockheed Martin engineer, stemmed from the Coast Guard’s order of nine Lockheed Martin Cutters, advanced surveillance and communications systems that form a critical part of the national security arsenal.
According to the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), which investigated the whistleblower’s claims and chose to intervene in the case, the Radio Frequency Distribution System (RFDS) Lockheed Martin provided fails to meet the “simultaneous operations” requirement of being able to transmit and receive several different radio signals at the same time without undue interference.
According to the DOJ, the Coast Guard has taken delivery of the first six Cutters, while three additional Cutters are under construction. All nine Cutters have versions of the same RFDS.
To settle the whistleblower lawsuit, Lockheed agreed to pay the U.S. $2.2 million and to provide the Coast Guard with repairs to the RFDS on the nine Cutters at no charge. Those repairs are valued at $2.2 million, the DOJ said.
“This office remains committed to fighting fraud and false claims against the federal government,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alex Tse for the Northern District of California, where the whistleblower lawsuit was filed. “It is essential that the communications systems on the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutters work properly. I am pleased that Lockheed has agreed to repair the systems so that they fully function to support the Coast Guard’s important mission.”
The engineer who filed the complaint under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act will receive $990,000 – about 22.5 percent of the total recovery – as an award for exposing the problem and helping federal authorities recoup funds spent on the allegedly defective equipment.
U.S. Department of Justice