Photo of Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building via Wikipedia.

Photo of Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building via Wikipedia.

The U.S. Attorney's Office accused a NASA contractor of prematurely replacing the tires of federal fleet vehicles at the Kennedy Space Center in a lawsuit filed Sept. 2.

The six-year scheme allegedly cost taxpayers $387,000 from June 2009 through April, according to federal prosecutors who brought the lawsuit against URS Federal Solutions and its subcontractor, Yang Enterprises Inc. under the U.S. False Claims Act.

URS and Yang received more than $1 billion via a contract with the General Services Administration to manage about 400 fleet vehicles. The companies submitted $387,000 in false claims for "an unprecedented number of tire replacements," according to a release from the Attorney's Office. Some of the replaced tires had fewer than 5,000 miles of wear. In one instance, URS ordered six tire replacements for one vehicle during a 27-month period.

In some cases, installed tires on federal vehicles appeared to have been removed and replaced by inferior tires by the time the vehicle was re-serviced. Roughly half of the vehicle fleet for which URS and Yang were responsible had vehicles with tires that did not last 60% of their expected tire life, the suit alleges.

"We expect government contractors to act with integrity when they fulfill their contractual obligations to the government," said A. Lee Bentley III, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. "Overbilling for services that are not documented or not reasonable hurts the taxpayer."