Nurses hired on IT contract, senator charges

A U.S. senator has accused a New Orleans-based company of hiring medical personnel under a contract that was meant only for information technology.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to the Energy Department stating that Science and Engineering Associates (SEA) Inc. should not have hired nurses and performed other medical assistance work under an IT contract. Grassley made the allegation after the General Services Administration's inspector general conducted a review of the work at his request.

A spokesman for the company disputes the charge and said all the work the company was doing directly related to maintaining a database for worker's compensation claims at nuclear plants, as it was hired to do. Since the work in question was done, SEA has merged with ITS Services Inc. to create a new organization called Apogen Technologies.

The contract called for SEA to maintain a database of claims for workers who say they were injured while working in Energy nuclear facilities, Todd Stottlemyer, chief executive officer of Apogen. In doing that, the company hired 50 nurses as management analysts to check the language and terminology in each claim and in the database itself, he said.

"The Department of Energy's contract for this required us to package the claims very efficiently," said Todd Stottlemyer, chief executive officer of Apogen. "DOE asked us to build the system, and increase the level of manpower to improve the speed of claims processing. We have 50 experienced nurse practitioners that understand how medical information affiliated with the claims and work history need to be packaged for review by the physicians panels. This team approach will permit accurate decisions and help doctors determine validity of claims."

Although that contract has expired, Apogen is bidding on a new one, he said.

Jack Lebo, the assistant inspector general for administration in GSA's Office of the Inspector General, said the office conducted the review at Grassley's request and passed the findings on to the senator's office.

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