McCaskill, Wyden Question $24 Million Government Reimbursement to Contractor for Whistleblower Legal Fees

Senators call for details after the National Nuclear Security Administration reimbursed a contractor for legal defense fees stemming from several whistleblower cases

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are calling for answers from the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration after receiving documents from a whistleblower that appear to show that the government reimbursed over $24 million to a contractor for costs related to whistleblower litigation.

The Energy Department is prohibited from reimbursing contractors for legal costs if the contractor is found to have retaliated against a whistleblower or to have taken other prohibited actions. McCaskill and Wyden are seeking answers about why the Department of Energy reimbursed the contractor the more $24 million in legal fees.

“Whistleblowers are an invaluable resource for weeding out waste, fraud, and abuse—the last thing the government should be doing is paying the legal fees of contractors who’ve retaliated against whistleblowers,” McCaskill said. “The Department of Energy needs to justify why it spent taxpayer dollars on reimbursing this contractor. And if it can’t, it needs to get that money back now.”

“Allowing the Energy Department to spend taxpayer dollars to reimburse private contractors’ legal fees tips the scales of justice against whistleblowers from start to finish,” said Wyden. “It’s unacceptable the DOE continues to let its contractors run up millions of dollars in legal fees while trying to muzzle employees who bravely come forward with evidence of government waste, fraud or abuse.”

A whistleblower provided documents to the Senators about reimbursements by the National Nuclear Security Administration of over $24 million for legal costs related to whistleblower litigation involving contractor Lawrence Livermore National Security. McCaskill and Wyden have previously questioned the Department of Energy over its reimbursements for whistleblower-related costs, and in a letter to Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the Senators detail previous concerns raised over how the Department of Energy determines eligibility for reimbursements. The Senators asked for updates on how the Department of Energy has implemented recommendations to strengthen oversight over contractor reimbursements and how the National Nuclear Security Administration made its decision to reimburse Lawrence Livermore National Security.

Read McCaskill and Wyden’s letter HERE.