DOD contractors pay $13 million fine for hiring Russian programmers

Russian programmers were hired to work on a US DOD communications system.
Russian programmers were hired to work on a US DOD communications system.

Two Pentagon contractors agreed to pay almost $13 million to settle allegations that they hired workers without security clearances to work on a Department of Defense (DOD) telecommunications project.

NetCracker Technology Corp. and Computer Science Corp. will pay $11.4 million and $1.35 million, respectively, according to a statement by The U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia. From 2008 to 2013, NetCracker, as prime contractor, had been overseeing the implementation of software used to manage a DOD communications network. During this time, the Attorney's Office alleged that the company used employees without security clearances to perform work even though it was contractually obligated to ensure all workers required clearance.

Neither the U.S. Attorney's Office nor the Defense Information Systems Agency, which contracted with the companies, would say what nationality the non-secure workers were, but in court documents filed in 2011 whistleblower John Kingsley stated they were Russians. Kingsley was a manager for NetCracker at the time, overseeing the project.

“Defendant NetCracker Technology Corporation, with the knowledge of Defendant Computer Sciences Corporation, knowingly, intentionally, and systematically delegated highly sensitive tasks, including the writing of code to be placed on the Department of Defense's secured computer network, to individuals in Russia who were not U.S. citizens; who possessed no security clearances; who worked in unsecured locations in and around Moscow,” the complaint said.

Kingsley went on to say in the complaint that this practice threatened the integrity of the DOD's computer network possibly allowing enemies to access classified information and intercept wartime communications.

Kingsley's original claims were validated in the final documentation for the case filed on October 28 and which stated:

  •        NetCracker, with the knowledge of Computer Sciences Corporation, knowingly delegated certain tasks to individuals located outside the United States who were not U.S. citizens.
  •        Code developed outside the United States was then delivered to the United States and placed in U.S. Government computer networks.
  •        The placement of such code on the DOD networks compromises the Department of Defense's computer system.

Under the settlement neither company had to admit liability.

Kingsley, as the whistleblower, is set to receive $2.4 million in this case under the False Claims Act, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

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