GSA employee, husband guilty in hiring scheme

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A former General Services Administration contracting director pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges in a scheme to get her husband federal and private contracting jobs.

Helen Renee Ballard, 51, and Robert Ballard, 56, of Brandywine, Md, pleaded guilty on March 23 to a charge of conspiracy to make false statements to the federal government. An additional 11 counts, including charges of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and making false statements, were dropped in a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

Renee Ballard, a former director of GSA's Central Office Contracting Division, admitted to helping her husband Robert get jobs at a federal contractor working for GSA by pumping up his resume and manipulating the hiring process to get the highest salaries possible, according to court documents. She also shopped her husband's falsely augmented resume around to other federal agency human resources departments.

Ultimately, the Ballards wrung about $200,000 from the plot.

Renee Ballard worked in the Central Office Contracting Division at GSA from 2006 to 2011 and continued with the agency until 2016, according to the documents. She had also worked at federal IT solutions and services provider CACI between 2003 and 2004.

In 2010 and into 2011, according to the documents, Renee Ballard leveraged her position at GSA to pressure a project manager at CACI to hire her husband as an acquisition and program strategy manager for a $130,000 a year on a project Renee Ballard oversaw. According to the court filings, in 2011 she also tried to hire her husband for a $105,000 GS-14 position within GSA under her supervision, until the GSA inspector general caught on and began an investigation.

Between 2010 and 2014, according to the documents and DOJ statement, the two submitted over 139 employment applications that said Steve Ballard had several advanced college degrees and was certified at the highest levels of government contracting.

Renee Ballard sent out the applications with the bogus experience claims to almost a dozen big federal agencies including the FBI, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, State Department, Transportation and Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Education and others.

While Steve Ballard's resume claimed extensive college and advanced degrees and federal contracting experience, according to the court documents, he had not much of either.

Steve's crooked resume was also sent to the Executive Office of the President in an attempt to get a job there in 2011, according to DOJ. That resume claimed he was Level III certified and held an MBA with a concentration in acquisition and program management, court documents said. He earned a bachelor's degree in business management degree in 1996 from the University of Maryland University College, but claims of degrees from other schools were false, according to the court documents.

Court documents said that between July 2010 and July 2011, the Ballards submitted through at least seven applications with the falsified resume information for GSA positions, including budget officer, contract analyst, program analyst, project manager and director of real property acquisition.

According to the documents, Steve Ballard also sent doctored up applications to at least six different private contractors who worked, at times on-site, with the federal agencies, including GSA and Customs and Border Protection.

The Ballards each could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison when their sentencing hearing comes up on July 28.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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