The consulting business of former Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., reaped more than $450,000 from four Energy Department research facilities despite scant documentation of the work done in return, according to an audit released Tuesday by the agency's inspector general. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)
A former congresswoman’s consulting business reaped almost a half-million dollars from the Energy Department for questionable work, according to a new inspector general’s audit.
Officials at two of the department’s facilities — Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and the Nevada National Security Site — said there were “no deliverables” associated with their payments to former Rep. Heather Wilson’s company, Heather Wilson and Co., according to the report.
In all, the company received more than $450,000 in payments from four Energy Department facilities.
Information provided by the company to auditors to document the services provided to the department “did not meet even minimum standards for satisfying [Federal Acquisition Regulation] requirements,” the inspector general said in the audit.
The former Republican congresswoman served in the House from 1998 to 2009, giving up her seat to run unsuccessfully for the Senate. In April, she was named president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where she is scheduled to take office next week, according to the school’s website. Wilson did not return a phone message left Tuesday at the school.
Under a January 2009 agreement with Sandia National Laboratories, Wilson was to provide advice on strategic objectives and other areas to leaders at the New Mexico-based facility, which is run by a Lockheed Martin subsidiary. But while Sandia made almost $226,400 in government-reimbursed payments to the company over the next two years, the invoices from Wilson’s firm lacked detail on the services provided or the time spent doing the work, the auditors said.
It was a similar story at Los Alamos National Laboratory, also headquartered in New Mexico. Los Alamos National Security, the contractor running the facility, was reimbursed about $195,700 from 2009 to 2011 for payments made to the Wilson firm, despite a lack of “evidence of deliverables and detailed invoices” to support the allowability of payments to the company, according to the audit.
Another $30,000 in payments came from Oak Ridge and the Nevada site.
The Energy Department has recovered almost $443,000 from the contractors running the four facilities and is reviewing the allowability of the remainder, according to the audit.
The IG faulted the contractors both for failing to draft the consulting agreements in accord with FAR requirements and for not making sure the government got value for its money.
In addition, federal officials “could have followed up to ensure previously identified problems were corrected, but did not do so,” the audit said.