Department of Justice sues DHS contractor under the False Claims Act

by Ben Vernia | May 6th, 2022

The Department of Justice announced on May 3 that it had filed suit against a Maryland-based contractor over a corruptly-obtained contract with the Department of Homeland Security. According to DOJ’s press release:

The United States has filed a lawsuit against government contractor Intelligent Fiscal Optimal Solutions LLC (iFOS) and its owner, Tawanda M. Smith, both of Columbia, Maryland, alleging that they violated the False Claims Act by submitting false invoices to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in connection with a contract for staff augmentation services awarded by DHS to iFOS.   

According to the United States’ complaint, iFOS and Smith coordinated with then DHS official Kenneth J. Buck, to steer a contract to iFOS. iFOS and Smith planned for Buck to enter into a subcontract with iFOS following his departure from DHS pursuant to which Buck would serve as the Strategic Advisor for the DHS contract, a role that would necessitate him communicating directly with his successor at DHS on behalf of iFOS. iFOS and Smith were allegedly aware of federal conflict-of-interest rules that limited Buck’s ability to communicate directly with DHS officials on behalf of iFOS during a mandatory “cooling off” period that applies to former government officials such as Buck, and they allegedly misled DHS contracting personnel by falsely representing that a different iFOS employee would serve as the Strategic Advisor and concealing their planned involvement of Buck. After the contract was awarded, iFOS and Smith allegedly submitted false invoices to DHS contracting personnel that concealed the extensive work performed by Buck on the contract, which allegedly included improper communications with his DHS successor that violated federal conflict-of-interest laws. The complaint further alleges that iFOS and Smith violated material contract requirements that mandated a background investigation be completed for all iFOS personnel, which Buck never completed. Earlier this month, Buck settled civil claims relating to his alleged role in the scheme. 

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The case apparently arose from a government investigation, rather than a whistleblower’s lawsuit.

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