Former US Rep. and Senate candidate Heather Wilson used her years in Congress as a springboard for private-sector defense work.
[DOCUMENTS] IG: Serious Concerns With Lab Payments to Heather Wilson
DOE Inspector General says labs did not receive evidence that former Rep. Wilson provided services in exchange for $450,000 in consulting contracts.
June 11, 2013, 3:00 pm
By Justin Horwath
It's typed in black ink in a "Statement of Work" to be performed by a company owned by former Republican Rep. Heather Wilson: "The subcontractor shall provide advice and consultation to [Los Alamos National Security] in the following areas." The work listed in the March 31, 2009 document included advising senior management at Los Alamos National Laboratory on its threat reduction strategies and national security issues. In August 2009, Wilson would begin receiving about $10,000 a month from LANL for almost two years.
But a scathing report released Tuesday by the Department of Energy's Inspector General identified "serious concerns" that LANL and three other national laboratories authorized $450,000 in payments to Wilson's company "even though they did not receive evidence that work performed under the agreements had been completed."
The report does not indicate that Wilson did not do any work for the labs during her contracting period—just that her services were not properly documented. Wilson told the Associated Press in a statement that the IG report "confirms that the labs were satisfied with my work."
"The work was done in full compliance with the contracts we signed and under the direct supervision of lab sponsors," she said.
For LANL, a task order required that Wilson's company complete a minimum of 50 hours of work per month. That's roughly $200 an hour. A similar agreement was entered into between Wilson's company and Sandia National Laboratory. But the IG report states information provided by the labs "did not meet even minimum standards" of federal regulations that fees were supported by evidence of Wilson's "nature and scope of the service furnished."
According to the IG report, the private managers of the four national labs paid Wilson the $450,000—and the government "fully" reimbursed those payments. The Department of Energy says in a memo that it has recovered $442,887—"more than 95 percent of the costs called into question in the draft report."
Between August 2009 and February 2011 LANL authorized 19 payments totaling $195,718 to Wilson, according to the report, "without evidence of deliverables and detailed invoices to support the allowability of these payments." Typical monthly invoices submitted by Wilson's company to Sandia National Laboratories for $10,000 would simply state "Consulting services for 11/1/10-11/30/10," states the IG report. There was no breakdown of what exactly "consulting services" constituted.
The report also identified "similar concerns" at the Nevada National Security Test Site and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory that Wilson was paid $30,000 by the two labs without "detailed invoices" to support those payments. Oak Ridge, according to the report, paid Wilson three payments of $2,500 to provide advisory services to the lab's Global Security Directorate Strategic Advisory Group, "which provided insight on future directions and requirements for sponsoring agencies." According to the IG report, a statement of work required Wilson's company to provide advisory services on "multiple topics" for the private contractor that manages Nevada's Security Test Site.
In October, 2012, SFR reported on Wilson's consulting contracts with national laboratories and defense contractors. The former Congresswoman was in a heated US Senate race with Democrat Martin Heinrich. During the campaign the US Air Force Academy graduate and former National Security Council member argued her expertise in the defense world would help her secure federal funding for New Mexico's sacred cow: its two national labs. She lost the seat to Heinrich and is now the president-designate of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, S.D. (Wilson was not a public official at the time of her consulting work with the national labs).
The federal government has kept Wilson's contracts secret. The four nuclear labs are managed by contractors. The "Statement of Work" was for Los Alamos National Security, a limited liability company formed by the University of California and private-sector companies. SFR last year submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act for Wilson's contracts with three labs: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The National Nuclear Security Administration responded the "Statement of Work" from LANL and a procurement document that justified the reason for a no-bid contract. NNSA also provided a March 25, 2009 Sandia contract purchase agreement. All three documents are posted below. NNSA stated in a letter it could not provide Wilson's contracts because they are in possession of contractors such as LANS—and not the federal government—that manage the labs.
Wilson, according to the report, may have been doing work prohibited by the contracts. Language in the procurement document by LANL prohibited Wilson from engaging "in any activity in any way related to obtaining, retaining, or facilitating business or business opportunities." LANL Deputy Director Ike Richardson signed the request for a no bid contract on March 25, 2009.
According to the IG report, although Wilson's agreements stated that her company shall not engage in obtaining new business for labs at Sandia and Los Alamos, "our examination of relevant documentation at both Sandia and Los Alamos tend to indicate such activities did occur."
"In fact," the report states, "a senior Los Alamos official acknowledged that Los Alamos desired to use [Heather Wilson Company's] services, in part, to increase work-for-others activities."
"Specifically," the report continues, "he told us that: (i) Los Alamos had made a strategic decision to increase the market share of work involving the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, and (ii) the Los Alamos Director believed the expertise of HWC could help with that initiative."
Sandia officials, according to the report, discovered that "Sandia had sanctioned and paid HWC for a number of activities that they considered to be prohibited under the terms of its agreement."
Los Alamos told the AP in a statement that "it 'was reasonable and appropriate' to seek Wilson's services, calling her 'uniquely qualified to advise the lab on a variety of issues related to our national security missions.'"
The AP reported:
Even so, the lab added, "we acknowledge we did not document her services consistent with our own expectations for subcontract management." The lab, which is managed by Bechtel, Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services, the University of California and others, said it was taking steps to avoid similar concerns with future consulting agreements.
Sandia issued a similar statement, but claimed it has documentation that "demonstrates we received commensurate value" from Wilson in support of the lab's missions.