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Feds Waste $130K Because They Weren’t Paying Attention To What Contractors Were Billing

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) allowed contractors to bill the government for more than $130,000 because the agency didn’t “always review contractor invoices to ensure costs claimed were allowable and adequately supported,” according to an inspector general (IG) report.

FWS allowed contractors Donjon Marine and CVI to overbill taxpayers for workers who may not have shown up, office equipment, fuel and duplicative personnel costs, according to the Interior Department IG office.

“We believe that these funds were wasted and that FWS will not be able to recover the funds from the contractors,” the IG reported. “We also found that [the contracting staff] did not effectively review the contractor’s invoices and supporting documentation, which resulted in the approval and payment of costs that were not allowed.”

The IG found lax oversight and contract administration resulted in FWS allowing Donjon Marine to claim more than $113,000 in duplicative costs for administrative personnel that were already factored into the contract. FWS also allowed the contractor to bill the government for “labor charges for personnel who did not sign the sign-in sheet and were still paid.”

Someone wrote the words “OUT” or “Jamaica” instead of their own name when signing into work. FWS reimbursed Donjon Marine for costs of office supplies “such as a WIFI router, numerous printer supplies and cartridges, a television, and a computer” that weren’t supposed to be paid for by taxpayers.

FWS allowed Donjon to get away with billing the government for fuel costs that were actually $17,606 more than the company incurred. That’s because FWS reimbursed Donjon for fuel at a flat rate that was way higher than gas prices were.

When FWS signed its contract, gas prices were plummeting because of booming U.S. oil production and Saudi Arabia’s refusal to cut production in November, 2014, but the agency reimbursed Donjon at a rate of $4.80 a gallon for fuel.

The company was able to charge 40 percent more in fuel costs than it actually incurred.

“CVI submitted fuel charges to FWS without any supporting documentation,” the IG said of the other contractor, CVI. “The FWS CS paid the invoices without verifying whether the amounts claimed were supported.”

“The [contracting staff] failed to validate supporting documentation for contractor operating costs and allowed the contractor to claim costs that were unsupported or that were for items now allowed by the contract,” the IG reported.

“These errors and omissions would have been identified had the CS reviewed the contractor’s invoices and supporting documentation,” the IG wrote.

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