A Virginia-based IT contractor recently agreed to pay the government $400,000 to settle claims that its employees improperly accessed restricted information at a U.S. military installation. The allegations arose out of the contractor’s work at a U.S. Army Medical Information Technology Center. The contractor held a contract for IT services, under which its employees had access to the network, computers, and other resources solely for the purpose of performing work on the government’s information technology systems.
The Government contended that, while performing work under the contract, the contractor’s employees accessed information that they deemed useful for the contractor’s future efforts to obtain government contracts. The contractor’s employees allegedly searched for and downloaded documents from the network, including documents that were restricted or required security clearance. The documents were allegedly used to prepare proposals for three subsequent government contracts. The contractor did not secure any of those contracts and, additionally, withdrew itself from consideration for one contract before a source selection decision was made. Nevertheless, the government initiated an action against the contractor for improperly using restricted information.
Government contractors should be aware that the use of restricted government information for purposes beyond the scope of the contract, including for use in attempting to secure future contracts, can lead to government prosecution for false claims.