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D.C. Metro will pay $4M fine for abusing government grants

- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 23, 2014

D.C.'s Metro system paid a $4.2 million settlement to the federal government after it used taxpayer money to help a favored contractor, the Justice Department announced this week.

Metro gave a private business a $14 million contract, without any competition or bidding from other companies, government records show, violating the Federal Transit Administration's policies for the use of grants and funds.

"The American people have a right to know that their government is following rules and regulations in spending the taxpayers' money," said Ronald Machen, the U.S. Attorney for D.C.

Metro officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

The transit agency gave the $14 million contract to Virginia-based Metaformers, Inc. to update the transit system's financial and business systems. About $9 million of that was funded through the federal government's grants.

By not completing the project D.C. city transit officials couldn't make sure they were getting the fair price, and "violated federal procurement conflict of interest rules by giving one contractor an advantage over others who might have been interested in competing for the integration project," the DOJ said.

The government was alerted to the wrongdoing by a whistleblower, former Metro employee Shahiq Khwaja, who as part of the settlement will receive a $1 million payment.

The Transportation Department's investigative Office of Inspector General found that Mr. Khwaja had been wrongfully fired from his job after expressing concerns that Metro was abusing the government's funds.

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