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Project on Government Oversight




Sandia Employee Sells Robotic Dog on eBay iPods, Computers, Robotic Dog Charged to Federal Government

July 28, 2005 


An employee at Sandia National Laboratory allegedly charged robotic dogs, iPods, laptop computers and other items to the federal government, then apparently resold them on eBay or kept them for personal use, according to a search warrant issued by the U.S. District Court of New Mexico this week.

The search warrant was obtained by KOBTV, Channel 4 in Albuquerque, NM which was to televise a report last night. Click here to view the warrant.

According to the warrant, the employee "utilized the Internet auction site 'Ebay' to sell numerous electronic items, including a Sony robot dog, from 1999 through 2002." Sandia Lab managers noticed that some of the employee's purchases were missing in August, 2004, prompting the Lab to contact the Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General which is investigating the fraud. The search warrant lists 43 items or categories of items that inspectors are searching for, including iPods, laptop computers, digital cameras, printers, and other electronic items. The search warrant's version of events suggests that the fraud may have been occurring undetected for as long as five years.

The warrant is reminiscent of fraud scandals that plagued the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2002 and 2003, including the alleged purchase of a Mustang automobile on a Lab purchase card (click here to view the CBS Evening News piece).

Those scandals played a central role in the DOE's decision to force University of California to compete for management of the Lab with other bidders for the first time in 60 years. Lockheed Martin, the contractor which runs Sandia, submitted a bid to run Los Alamos Lab last week.

"This warrant suggests that procurement fraud goes beyond Los Alamos and the University of California. Rather than relying so heavily on contractors to guard taxpayer dollars, the Department of Energy needs to assert stronger control over its spending at nuclear labs," said Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). DOE essentially allows contractors to monitor themselves, according to a March 2005 Government Accountability Office report. Click here to view POGO's archives on Los Alamos.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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