Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) agreed to pay $18.4 million to settle alleged False Claims Act violations regarding the submission of timecards for unworked hours to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

CNS, which is contracted by the NNSA to manage its Pantex Plant in Texas, self-disclosed the apparent misconduct, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a press release Tuesday. CNS will pay nearly $16.6 million in restitution, according to its settlement agreement.

The DOJ acknowledged remedial efforts undertaken by CNS, including the termination of employees involved in the alleged misconduct and its cooperation with the agency’s investigation.

The details: From July 2014 through June 2020, Pantex Plant production technicians submitted timecards for unworked hours to the NNSA, the DOJ alleged.

CNS disclosed it believed there to be “credible evidence” certain production technicians at the plant fraudulently recorded hours on their timesheets that they did not work.

In an emailed statement, a CNS spokesperson said the misconduct was self-disclosed in February 2019 after “extensive investigations by both CNS and the federal government.”

“CNS initially discovered suspicious activity as it implemented process efficiencies and improved payroll systems,” the statement read.

The company disclosed additional remedial efforts, including:

  • Providing up-to-date information to the government regarding the nature of the improperly charged hours, the personnel involved in the mischarging, and the potential financial impact to the NNSA;
  • Identifying individuals with potential awareness of relevant information or conduct and conducting interviews; and
  • Undertaking extensive measures to guard against the possible recurrence of similar misconduct.

Brian Boynton, head of the DOJ’s Civil Division, said the agency would “not tolerate the misuse of public funds” and “ensure that government contractors fulfill their commitments, particularly with respect to highly sensitive work on matters of national security.”

Compliance considerations: CNS agreed to encourage and not impair the cooperation of its employees and former employees for interviews and testimony, the settlement agreement noted.

Additionally, the company agreed to provide complete and unredacted copies of all nonprivileged documents; reports; memoranda of interviews; and records in its possession, custody, or control concerning any investigation into the alleged misconduct.

Company response: “CNS remains dedicated to its mission of ensuring the effectiveness and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile in support of the nation’s nuclear deterrent—and to delivering its mission to the highest standards of excellence, ethics, and integrity,” the statement read.

The company agreed to settle without admitting liability.