The Department of Justice recently intervened in a lawsuit against Symantec over allegations that the software company submitted false claims to the government on a General Services Administration software contract.
The case, United States ex rel. Morsell v. Symantec, was filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow 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 FCA also permits the government to intervene in such lawsuits, as it has done in this case.
“This lawsuit demonstrates the government’s commitment to ensuring that the companies it does business with act with integrity,” Stuart Delery, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said in a prepared statement.
In 2007, Symantec entered into a Multiple Award Schedule contract with GSA that allowed Symantec to sell software and related items directly to federal purchasers. According to the allegations, “Symantec knowingly provided the government with inaccurate and incomplete information about the prices it was offering to its commercial customers during the negotiation and performance of the contract,” the Justice Department stated.
GSA used Symantec’s disclosures about its commercial sales practices to negotiate the minimum discounts Symantec was required to provide government agencies that bought Symantec software. In addition, the contract required Symantec to update GSA when commercial discounts improved and extend the same improved discounts to government purchasers.
The lawsuit 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.
This matter was investigated by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and GSA’s Office of Inspector General.