Michael J. DeKort, a former engineer with Lockheed Martin, has brought a False Claims Act suit against the major contractors of the Coast Guard’s Deepwater acquisition program. Deepwater is the U.S. Coast Guard’s asset-replacement program in which the Guard is building innovative national security cutters and patrol boats. The vessels were initially designed so that information technology on one type of boat could also be employed on different types of boats.
DeKort filed his suit against Integrated Coast Guard Systems, a joint venture of Lockheed and Northrop Grumman Corp. The suit alleges that the contractors’ repeated deficiencies have caused critical safety, security and national security problems with the new vessels.
Before leaving Lockheed in 2004, DeKort worked on command, control and communications systems for the Deepwater program. DeKort claims that he personally observed shoddy workmanship with Deepwater equipment that would affect its environmental survivability. He filed his complaint in federal court in Dallas, Texas and claims that he was the victim of retaliation because he spoke out about the problems with Deepwater.
The Coast Guard does not deny that Deepwater has encountered several significant problems. Indeed, in 2007, the Guard had to reject eight new patrol boats due to structural problems. Still, the Coast Guard would not comment on DeKort’s lawsuit.
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