U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued the following announcement on June 20.
United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Support of Microcomputers Associates (“SOMA”) has agreed to a judgment against it in the amount of $300,000 for selling printers and other equipment to federal agencies that was manufactured in China and other non-compliant countries.
From 2009-2017, SOMA participated in the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Advantage program, which provides a web-based ordering system for federal agencies including the Department of Defense. Companies that join GSA Advantage certify that the materials they provide are permitted for sale to the United States pursuant to the Trade Agreements Act, 19 U.S.C. § 2501, et seq., and its implementing regulations. These rules provide for the United States and its agencies to purchase American-made materials or materials manufactured in specified allied countries. Instead, SOMA ignored the Trade Agreements Act rules and offered for sale to government agencies printers and other materials manufactured in China, Vietnam, and other non-compliant countries.
SOMA cooperated in the government’s investigation. The settlement is based in part on an evaluation of SOMA’s ability to pay.
“Americans have the right to know that their tax dollars are being spent in a way that Congress intended – here, to support American jobs and American policies,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “When United States agencies like the Department of Defense purchase printers or other computing equipment, they need assurance of the quality and security of their purchases. The Trade Agreements Act represents Congress’s determination of how best to accomplish those goals, and the United States Attorney’s Office is ready to investigate and hold accountable GSA contractors who do not follow these clear rules.”
“Congress enacted the Trade Agreements Act with the intention of protecting the government supply chain, along with the American economy,” said GSA OIG Special Agent in Charge Gerald Garren. “GSA OIG will continue to work with its partner agencies to aggressively investigate those suppliers on the GSA Schedule who endeavor to skirt this important law through the sale of non-compliant products.”
“Companies that sell goods to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and other U.S. Government agencies, while ignoring the rules and requirements of the Trade Agreements Act, undermine the federal contracting process,” stated Leigh-Alistair Barzey, Special Agent in Charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Northeast Field Office. “The judgment in this case is the direct result of a joint investigative effort and demonstrates DCIS’ ongoing commitment to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the GSA-OIG to ensure the integrity of the DoD procurement system.”
This settlement resolves allegations in a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by a former SOMA executive, under the qui tam (or whistleblower) provisions of the False Claims Act. The qui tam provisions permit private parties to sue for false claims on behalf of the government and to receive a share of any recovery. The relator here will receive a portion of the funds recovered by the United States.
This investigation was conducted with the General Services Administration Office of Inspector General and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. For the United States Attorney’s Office, Assistant United States Attorney Paul W. Kaufman handled the investigation and settlement.
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.
Original source can be found here.