The False Claims Act allows whistleblowers to bring lawsuits on the federal government’s behalf and, as a reward for bringing violations to light, share in any recovery of funds secured by the government. Most states have enacted similar laws that allow whistleblowers to bring claims.
These “qui tam” lawsuits cover a wide range of activities that defraud the government, such as billing for services that were never performed or overcharging for materials.
How does the False Claims Act work?
The whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act allow people to sue companies and individuals that defraud the government. These suits are filed under seal (not available to public searches) in federal court and investigated by the Department of Justice. Following its investigation, the government can intervene and take over the suit, or it can decline to intervene, allowing the whistleblower to proceed independently.
A False Claims Act whistleblower is entitled to an award of 15 to 30 percent of the government’s recovery, depending on whether the government intervenes. In 2016 alone, the Department of Justice recovered $2.9 billion as a result of the False Claims Act, awarding whistleblowers with $519 million.