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Software Government The Military United States Technology

Aerospace Corp Pays $2.5m To Settle Rogue Software Dev Case 129

chrb writes "U.S. company Aerospace Corp. has paid $2.5 million to settle a case that they defrauded the U.S. Air Force by knowingly billing for the services of a rogue software developer. The rogue developer, William Grayson Hunter, was being paid for two full time jobs at two different aerospace companies, but spent most of his time in bars, amusement parks and movie theaters. On some days, he billed his employers for over 24 hours' work."
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Aerospace Corp Pays $2.5m To Settle Rogue Software Dev Case

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  • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @09:40PM (#38331546)

    Thing I don't get is that the federal government normally requires defense contractors and the like to keep very, very close track of what employees do and to which programs they bill their time, down to the decimalized hour, essentially six-minute intervals. Technically an employee is supposed to charge time to go to the bathroom back to the company itself instead of to a particular program. The whole point of such an asinine system is to keep this kind of fraud from being possible, and to attempt to keep employees working on a particular project on-task.

    I guess that the "system worked" in that they did eventually catch on to the fraud, and took some kind of action because of it. I would actually blame the companies much more than the individual himself, though he does have plenty of culpability. I don't see how the employee's actions could have gone unnoticed by the companies.

  • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2011 @10:16PM (#38331710)

    I'm sorry, what planet are you on?

    Here at MCCHORD AFB (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord), our Desk Top PC maintenance is contracted. At one time it was General Dynamics, but now I'm not sure who it is.

    The *Main Dude* in charge of IT for the [ Group Name Deleted ] is a big fat dude who spends most of the day drinking in his car. True, he's got a bunch of twenty-somethings doing the work he should be doing, but GOOD FUCKING GRIEF.

    One of his geeks is this gimpy dude who can install a printer, but takes a fucking HOUR.

    The other dude is openly stealing software / hardware and will sell you something if you need it.

    Did I mention these three jokers have SIPRNET access?

  • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rbmyers ( 587296 ) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @10:23PM (#38331754)
    One consideration in my leaving the Aerospace Corporation when I did is that I wondered if anyone would notice my absence at any time other than lunch. The irony of the situation is that fining the Aerospace Corporation is a bit like the Federal Government fining itself, as no one but the Federal Government has any pecuniary interest in the Aerospace Corporation as a corporate entity--it might as well be a wholly-owned subsidiary of the US Air Force.
    Although no one ever said so explicitly, I assume that the bizarre legal status of the Aerospace Corporation was to allow it to operate free from the constraints that govern civil service employees and profit-making defense contractors. Furthermore, the fact that the Aerospace Corp. was privy to so many highly-sensitive programs made it seem natural that no one knew what anyone else was doing--even it the employee was doing nothing.
  • Re:Creative billing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jroysdon ( 201893 ) on Saturday December 10, 2011 @11:26PM (#38332052) Homepage

    Some of the best ideas and designs start on napkins. Might have been research/think time.

    If I'm solving a problem for a customer in the shower, should I not bill for that time if I'm getting results (especially when I'm holding down two jobs, and my personal time is where I fit my second job)? Granted, I shouldn't be able to bill for all my shower time, but time specifically devoted to a customer, sure, it's legit.

    I do some of my best thinking while sleeping (and prepping before going to bed) and usually piece it together in the shower. I just can't get much think time once I'm taking the kids to school or getting interrupted at my day job or in the evening until the kids get to bed.

    If I want to write it down while at lunch on a napkin, that's totally billable. Granted, I only do so in quarter hour chunks and I keep accurate time.

    Further, there is nothing wrong with double or even triple billing (beyond that, and I think you're going to be kidding yourself at your multitasking skills). Take for instance patching VoIP servers back Cisco CallManagers ran on Windows 2000 and required tons of reboots for the OS, SQL, CCM app, Security Agent, etc. Say I know it is going to take 1 hour to do the patching, and another 15 minutes prior going through my check lists, and 15 minutes post to verify everything is good. So if I have 3 customers that I'm going to patch in one night, so I do it serially or in parallel? I'm going to do it in parallel and triple bill some of that time. I start first pre-patching checklist, then patching. Then I do the second per-patching check-list, and patching. Finally I start the third pre-patching checklist, and patching. Time for a quick bathroom break and then time to start the post-patching check of customer 1, then 2, then 3. Sure, if I run into a snag with one customer I have to pause all the billing for the other customers, but that's on me, and it's also why we have redundant systems.

    Yeah, that's how to do it. Customers each get billed 1.5 hours. Takes me 2 hours to do it total, I bill 4.5. Everyone gets what they asked for, I'm efficient with my time, win win.

    Now, billing >24 hours in a day, that would take some gravitational time dilation [], and even then I think it's only on the order of seconds, not hours more per day.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10, 2011 @11:30PM (#38332066)

    The Aerospace Corporation is a great place to work if you are good at what you do and you love your job. You are given responsibility and are expected, without indoctrination, to be honest, true to the projects you work on, to the company's customers, your managers and your co-workers. The company is set up as a not-for-profit and it does not manufacture or compete, placing it in the position that it can be let in to what may be private and proprietary among competing defense contractors because Aerospace represents the interests of the government (the customer). It is inexcusable that the government was overcharged. Though I do not know the circumstances of this overcharge, I can tell you that there are projects the customer sets up where oversight can be artificially limited. Highly classified projects may give access to an extremely small number of people. I've experienced where my boss had no clue what I was doing on a project. The annual review went something like this...

    Boss: So, how have you been doing?

    Me: Great!

    Boss: I asked and they said you're OK. I asked if they wanted to change you out. They said no.

    Me: (annoyed) Thanks for sharing, got to get back to it.

    Boss: Good meeting.

    My boss could not know what I was working on due to customer imposed constraint. I did my job well, he believed me, and you, dear taxpayer, got more than your money's worth. Could I have abused the system? My thoughts never went there at the time, but looking back on it, it could have taken a couple of years for someone to be administratively allowed to take my place so, yeah, it was possible. I never learned of this happening, there certainly was no culture to support such behavior, and since we were, in essence, protecting ourselves by protecting you, it was not in our best interests to shortchange any project.

    Aerospace holds others and itself to the highest levels of expectation. Someone who has passed extensive government background check is, by definition, trustworthy. Even if they were duped they are responsible. They've done the responsible thing, have demonstrated they are not above the rules, will figure out ways to not be duped like this again, and can go back to making certain we continue to be safe and that our tax dollars are spent more effectively.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming