A lawsuit filed by two whistleblowers accuses Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. of wasting millions of tax dollars through fraudulent billing and work practices on super-secret defense programs.
Among the boondoggles that taxpayers paid for, the suit alleges, were employee use of Lockheed computers on government-billed time to sell cable TV decoders and real estate; to type the entire contents of the Bible; and run football betting pools.Details of the case unfolded Wednesday at the Oakland office of the lawyer handling the suit, which had been sealed by a federal court in San Jose for six months.
Margaret Newsham, a computer software specialist on secret satellite contracts who was fired from the company in 1984, and Martin Overbeek Bloem, an engineer still employed there, charged in the suit that Lockheed committed waste and fraud at its Sunnyvale, Calif., facility in programs listed in a "black" budget that was unknown to most of Congress.
The suit alleged that:
-A senior Lockheed manager got an airplane - except for wheels and engine - built for his personal use by company machinists at government expense.
-Lockheed failed to test 12 to 16 heat exchangers used for cooling systems on a government project until the last one was built, and then discovered they all were faulty and had to be scrapped. The heat exchangers were estimated to cost $1.5 million apiece.
-Employees awaiting security clearances in separate facilities known as "ice boxes" did little or no work for a year or more but charged their time to government contracts.
-Lockheed employees did personal business during work hours, using company computers to sell real estate, stocks, Home Box Office decoders, jewelry and cosmetics. One employee typed out the entire Bible on the computer and charged the company for his time.
-Classified computers were used for annual football betting pools on company time and using government charge numbers.
-The employees took long breaks, left on personal business while on company time, and billed work done on one project to a different one.
The suit also alleged that Lockheed awarded numerous subcontracts to Intercon Systems Corp. without comparing costs or determining whether Lockheed employees could have done the work, and then paid Intercon's employees daily expenses for unreasonably long periods of time while they awaited their security clearances.