More Troubles at Los Alamos
The management of Los Alamos National Laboratory is being questioned again. See the story in today's Washington Post by my colleague Dana Hedgpeth.
The lab, one of the largest science centers in the world, came under fire not long ago for lax security after investigators discovered more than 1,000 pages of classified documents and computer storage devices in a personal trailer occupied by a subcontractor who once worked as an archivist at the lab.
Now the inspector general at the Department of Energy -- which has responsibility for Los Alamos -- is alleging that a contractor working under a deal worth up to nearly $800 million has systematically charged the government more for work than its estimates.
The report by IG Gregory H. Friedman says that KSL Services Joint Venture, which provides an array of maintenance and other services, charged the government more than its estimates about 75 percent of the time, "often by significant amounts."
Auditors found that the lab's work control system, known as PassPort, allowed charges to be added without the knowledge of lab officials. Such work, labeled "Other Costs" in the system, added up to $41 million last year.
"The Department of Energy, directly or indirectly, paid or will pay all of these charges, the source being taxpayer-provided funds," the Oct. 25 report said.
KSL Services Joint Venture was formed by Kellogg Brown and Root Inc., Shaw Infrastructure Inc., and Los Alamos Technical Associates Inc.
"The Office of Inspector General received multiple complaints alleging irregularities by KSL in cost estimating and charging of work orders. It was alleged that actual costs frequently exceeded estimated costs and that KSL often mischarged labor and materials," the report said. "Our work substantiated the allegations."
By Robert O'Harrow | October 30, 2007; 6:59 AM ET ffrdc