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EPA COMPUTER CONTRACTOR WAS ACCUSED OF IMPROPER BILLINGS IN '80S

A company that received a $347 million contract from the Environmental Protection Agency in 1990 was accused by the agency four years earlier of improperly billing the government, according to internal EPA documents.

Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee, criticized the EPA on Wednesday for awarding the five-year contract despite the earlier accusations.The contractor is Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segundo, Calif., which runs a major portion of the agency's computer systems. The company said it is complying with all applicable regulations.

Dingell released 1986 and 1987 EPA documents showing the agency accusing Computer Sciences of improper billing practices. Among the allegations: billing as full-time work the part-time salaries of some employees; charging for improper training sessions; assigning unqualified personnel to EPA work; and submitting vouchers that were inaccurate, late and lacked supporting documentation.

A 1986 memo by an EPA official said he believed Computer Sciences was scheming to increase the pay of contract employees after the company and EPA already had agreed on their government-financed pay scales.

A May 1987 EPA memo said "CSC personnel were processing CSC invoices" for payment.

Those practices took place in now-expired contracts.

However, an EPA inspector general's audit, released last Friday by the agency, said the questionable billing practices continue in the new contract awarded in September 1990. The inspector general also said the EPA permitted conflicts of interest in the current contract.

"Despite red flags about the CSC situation in the late 1980s, the EPA on Sept. 20, 1990 blundered into an expanded five-year, $347 million contract with this contractor," Dingell said.

The inspector general said Computer Sciences' ability to prepare its own work orders "represented a conflict of interest and prohibited contracting activity" under EPA rules.