The company that manages a fleet of airplanes owned and leased by Google executives Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt improperly bought fuel from the government at below-market rates, for a savings of up to $5.3 million according to a report released by the NASA Inspector General on Wednesday.
The 10-page report said the discounted fuel purchases were the result of a "misunderstanding" between a Defense Department fuel provider and the NASA Ames Research Center, which manages the California airfield where a Boeing 767, a military-type Alpha Jet and several other aircraft are stored.
The report found that overall, NASA benefited from leasing 70,000 square feet of space to H211, the private company that manages the Google executives' aircraft. The $1.4 million a year that H211 paid NASA was at a fair market value. And NASA has flown more than 200 flights using some of the aircraft to collect climate data at no cost to the agency.
But while NASA did not lose any money on the fuel it sold to H211, the report said that H211 received a monetary benefit to which it was not entitled and recommended that NASA and H211 explore options to"remedy" the situation.
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Google referred all questions to H211 Vice President Ken Ambrose, who said he was reviewing the report, which the company received Wednesday morning.