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Lawsuit details alleged waste at intel agency

$250,000 Family Day, transit card abuse among charges

Jun. 4, 2013 - 05:54PM   |  
By JIM McELHATTON   |   Comments

The watchdog for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is investigating a whistle-blower’s complaints about fraud and waste atop the agency, including details of a 2011 “Family Day” event with clowns, dunk tanks and ponies that cost more than a quarter million dollars, according to court records.

The inspector general’s probe began after a former contract employee said she was fired last year after raising concerns about, among other things, the lease of new Cadillac for NGA’s director, Letitia Long, and potential transit card abuse among hundreds of employees, court records show.

The former Raytheon Technical Services program manager, Raissa Wilson, filed a lawsuit against her old employer, Raytheon, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., in December. She had been fired in February 2012.

A judge put the litigation on hold May 17 after Wilson’s lawyers filed a motion to delay the case pending the outcome of an active NGA IG investigation into Wilson’s accusations, which include a complaint about potential misuse of a government vehicle involving Long. Wilson’s lawsuit said NGA ditched a lease in 2010 for a new Chevy Suburban to be used as Long’s dedicated support vehicle and insisted on a more expensive Cadillac DTS instead.

An NGA official later said that “procuring the Cadillac was necessary because Ms. Long was entitled to a vehicle commensurate with her title and did not want to have the same or similar vehicle to other directors or executives in the community,” the lawsuit said.

The NGA IG’s office declined to comment, referring questions to the NGA.

“NGA is committed to being a good steward of taxpayer resources, and we take allegations like these very seriously,” NGA spokeswoman Christine Phillips wrote in a statement to Federal Times about the complaint.

“We are currently investigating the claims, and we will take corrective action if necessary. However, because this is an ongoing investigation, I cannot comment on the specific accusations.”

Those accusations include details about a “Family Day” event held at NGA in late September 2011 with dunk tanks, clowns and ponies. The lawsuit said the event cost more than $250,000, and family members were permitted into classified work spaces.

Months earlier, according to the complaint, Wilson had raised concerns about the fact that NGA had issued more than 600 Metro transit fare cards to employees while only about 230 used mass transit. The lawsuit said NGA employees were using the government-subsidized cards for personal rather than government use. When she complained, an NGA contracting official told Wilson she was being difficult, according to the complaint.

Raytheon declined comment on the case, citing a policy of not discussing active litigation.

Other examples of waste outlined by Wilson’s complaint include about $25,000 spent in November 2011 on holiday decorations, even as contract employees were ordered to destroy the previous year’s holiday decor.

Wilson’s lawsuit noted she witnessed the destruction of other, often nearly new agency equipment, such as 30-inch Apple flat panel computer monitors, dozens of video teleconferencing systems and drop-down ceiling screens still in their original packing.

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