The U.S. Department of Justice has intervened in a whistleblower lawsuit against the computer-security giant Symantec. The suit alleges that the company overcharged the federal government and states by tens of millions of dollars.
The Justice Department said the company entered into a contract with the General Services Administration in 2007 that allowed Symantec to sell software and related items directly to federal purchasers, The Wall Street Journal reports. GSA used Symantec’s information about its commercial sales practices to negotiate the minimum discounts for government agencies. The contract required Symantec to extend any improved commercial discounts to government purchasers, the DOJ said in a news release.
The suit contends that Symantec misrepresented its true commercial sales practices, ultimately leading to government customers receiving discounts far inferior to those Symantec gave to its commercial non-government customers. The contract at issue was in place from 2007 to 2012, and involved hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, the Justice Department said. “Contractors cannot provide GSA with inaccurate and incomplete pricing data,” said GSA Acting Inspector General Robert C. Erickson, according to The Wall Street Journal. “American taxpayers deserve a fair deal.”
The suit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private parties to sue on behalf of the government for the submission of false claims for government funds and to receive a share of any recovery. The False Claims Act also permits the government to intervene in such lawsuits, which the Justice Department has done in this case. The suit was filed in 2012 by whistleblower, Lori Morsell, who continues to work for the company, The Washington Post reports.
Symantec, based in Mountain View, California, denied the allegations in the lawsuit and said it is “confident the prices paid by the government for Symantec products and services were fair and reasonable.”