The False Claims Act (FCA) is a whistleblower reward statute. If you know of private parties (such as government contractors) defrauding the government, you as a whistleblower may bring a court action, called a qui tam suit, and be awarded a portion of the damages if the case is successful.
In addition, 30 states have “Little FCAs” –these provisions can also be seen in the context of other state whistleblower laws.
Remedies against the Violator:
- Civil penalties
- Treble the amount of damages sustained by the government as a result of the fraud
- Exclusion/debarment from government programs
Remedies for the Whistleblower:
- 15 to 25% of the recovery if the government intervenes
- 25 to 30% if whistleblower succeeds in a case which the government declines to pursue
- However cases in which the government does not intervene are expensive and difficult to win
- Attorneys’ fees
Role of the Whistleblower (“Relator” in FCA terminology):
- Bring suit in the name of the United States
- Assist by providing evidence, analysis, research
Anti-Retaliation Provision 31 USC 3730 (h) protects employees from retaliation for participating in false claims reporting, investigations, or law suits.
Government employees are not specifically barred from filing a qui tam lawsuit against their own agencies but face resistance from the Justice Department and procedural hurdles to ensure they are not seeking to profit from doing their job (e.g., as a government auditor). Before considering a False Claims Act suit, government employees should first exhaust their agency’s fraud reporting requirements.
False Claims Act Proceedings