NPR : News

Gallup Nears Settlement Deal With DOJ In Overbilling Case

The Gallup Organization has reached "an agreement in principle" with the Justice Department to settle civil allegations that the polling company overbilled the U.S. government by providing inflated estimates for federal contracts, according to a new court filing.

A deal could be announced by mid-June, the court filing says, bringing an end to a costly and embarrassing episode that first came to light when a Gallup insider blew the whistle.

The lawsuit by former employee Michael Lindley accuses Gallup of overcharging the U.S. Mint and the State Department for research about public demand for new coins and American passports. Last winter, the Justice Department formally joined the case, ratcheting up pressure on the historic polling organization. Now comes word that months of settlement talks are nearing an end.

"The parties have reached an agreement in principle to fully settle this matter and have completed negotiations of a written settlement document," reads the court filing from late Friday.

Gallup became a brand name back in 1936 when the company correctly predicted that Franklin Roosevelt would defeat Alf Landon to win the U.S. presidency. But its acumen got called into question in the latest presidential race when its polls suggested President Obama was trailing Republican challenger Mitt Romney just weeks before the election.

Gallup has enlisted outside experts to review its polling methods and has said it plans to roll out in early June the findings and possible changes to how many interviews it conducts via cell phone, and how it measures likely voters and early voters.

Although Gallup is best known for opinion polls, its business model relies on management consulting and contracting with entities such as the U.S. government. The Justice Department investigation threw some of that into turmoil.

In a related case, a former official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency who had agreed to go work for Gallup pleaded guilty in January to violating conflict of interest law for failing to disclose the job offer even as he was trying to steer business to Gallup on his way out the door.

After the case came to light, FEMA temporarily suspended Gallup from winning any new federal contracts, limiting its business options. Friday's joint court filing says the Justice Department and Gallup are still working out a separate deal "regarding the resolution of a related, collateral matter" — believed to stem from the plea by former FEMA human resources Director Timothy Cannon, who was sentenced to probation last month.

The court filing states that Gallup's lawyers are reviewing a draft agreement "to resolve the related, collateral matter" and plan to meet with a separate Justice Department team handling that case "to discuss a final resolution."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

He Died At 32, But A Young Artist Lives On In LA's Underground Museum

When Noah Davis founded the museum, he wanted to bring world-class art to a neighborhood he likened to a food desert, meaning no grocery stores or museums. Davis died a year ago Monday.
NPR

The Strange, Twisted Story Behind Seattle's Blackberries

Those tangled brambles are everywhere in the city, the legacy of an eccentric named Luther Burbank whose breeding experiments with crops can still be found on many American dinner plates.
WAMU 88.5

State Taxes, School Budgets And The Quality Of Public Education

Budget cutbacks have made it impossible for many states to finance their public schools. But some have bucked the trend by increasing taxes and earmarking those funds for education. Taxes, spending and the quality of public education.

NPR

A Robot That Harms: When Machines Make Life Or Death Decisions

An artist has designed a robot that purposefully defies Isaac Asimov's law that "a robot may not harm humanity" — to bring urgency to the discussion about self-driving and other smart technology.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.