November 7, 2014

Alleged Attempts by Sandia National Laboratories to Influence Congress and Federal Officials on a Contract Extension

The Department of Energy's (Department) Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) is a Government-owned, contractor-operated laboratory that is part of the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) nuclear weapons complex. In 1993, the Management and Operating (M&O) contract was competitively awarded and was set to expire on September 30, 2012, but it was extended for 12 months with two 3 month option periods, which extended the contract for an additional 6 months beyond the September 30, 2013 expiration date. On March 17, 2014, the Department announced that it was moving forward with a noncompetitive extension for a period of 2 years with an option for a third year while NNSA prepared for a full and open competition. 

Prompted by an Office of Inspector General inspection report, NNSA's Sandia Field Office conducted a preliminary review of documentation from 2009 through 2011 regarding consultant SNL activities. On March 27, 2013, the Sandia Field Office alleged that SNL impermissibly attempted to influence an extension to the Sandia Corporation contract and engaged Ms. Wilson in these activities.

Our inspection substantiated the allegation that SNL used Federal contract funds to engage in activities that were intended to influence the extension of the M&O contract with the Department—a contract then valued at about $2.4 billion per year. In particular, SNL developed and executed a plan that involved meeting with and attempting to influence Federal and Congressional officials to provide assistance in obtaining a noncompetitive extension of its contract with the Department. We determined that these activities appeared to have violated United States Code and Federal Acquisition Regulation provisions prohibiting the use of Federal funds to influence members of Congress or Federal officials with regard to an extension of a contract. We also concluded that such activities were impermissible under a provision of the Sandia Corporation M&O contract, which prohibits the contractor from making interface with any Federal, state, municipal or local legislators, or legislative personnel for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business for Sandia Corporation.

We made several recommendations designed to assist management in preventing any future use of Federal funds to influence members of Congress and Federal officials with regard to Federal contracting actions. Management concurred with the report's findings and identified planned actions to address our recommendations. We consider management's comments responsive to the report's recommendations.

The full report on this matter has been designated as for "Official Use Only" and is not available for public release.

Topic: Human Resources