The U.S. federal government is an immense organization. It provides a large number of services to residents of the U.S. and, excluding members of the military, employs a couple million people. While the government employs many individuals directly through all of its various branches and agencies, it also supports numerous industries through government contracts. In fact, the U.S. government is one of the largest purchasers of goods and services in the world. Every branch and agency within the federal government must contract with other businesses to obtain goods, from office supplies to military weapons. Every arm of the government hires others to perform certain services, from cleaning to high-level consultations. Unfortunately, one of the ways individuals take advantage of the government is through these contracts. People may violate the False Claims Act (FCA) by filing fraudulent invoices for goods or services with the government or not providing the goods or services promised within an agreement. If you are aware of someone defrauding the government through a goods or service agreement, contact a San Francisco qui tam attorney from Willoughby Brod, LLP right away.Procurement Fraud
One of the largest issues related to government contracting is procurement fraud, and the FCA is the government’s main vehicle for pursuing financial recovery for fraudulent activity.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), in 2017 the department aggressively pursued procurement fraud matters and recovered hundreds of millions of dollars. Many of these cases related to contracts to provide goods and services to the Department of Defense (DOD), which obtained settlements and judgements worth $219,999,712 in 2017. However, every branch, agency, and department of the federal government can be a victim of false claims.
There may be a valid FCA claim whenever the government does not receive the goods or services for which it specifically contracted. A common issue is for the goods to be defective, such as equipment that does not function as it should. Another issue the government consistently faces is being overcharged for certain goods and services. It may be charged for items or services it never receives or for higher priced or more items than it actually receives. A vendor may also charge more than the agreed-upon price. Any type of false claim that results in payment by the federal government may rise to the level of an FCA violation.
If you have any information about false claims being sent to the government, contact a qui tam attorney in San Francisco as soon as possible.Bribery and Rigging Bids
Another form of fraud the government actively combats is obtaining contracts through bribery and bid-rigging. Bribery specifically pertains to offering federal officials and employees money or other items of value in order to influence their decision. Briberies may be hidden under speaking fees, tickets to sporting events and concerts, lavish trips, and other valuable items or experiences. Bribery can also take the form of kickback payments. Certain government officials or employees may create improper financial relationships with government contractors through which they receive money or valuable items after helping the contractor generate certain business. Bid-rigging involves contractors working together to fix prices and influence which business may receive a government contract for certain goods or services.
Bribery, rigging bids, and other forms of procurement fraud cost the federal government millions each year. Every contract created through or affected by one of these activities is invalid, and every invoice sent under the invalid contract may be an FCA violation. If you are aware of bribery, kickbacks, or bid-rigging in regard to a government contract, contact a qui tam lawyer for San Francisco.Qui Tam Claims Related to Government Contracting
The federal government can pursue financial recoveries under the FCA itself. However, a substantial number of cases and a portion of the government’s settlements and court awards arise from whistleblower lawsuits, also known as qui tam claims. In 2017, the DOJ reported that $3.4 billion of the government’s total $3.7 billion in judgements and settlements was related to qui tam cases.
A qui tam claim under the FCA is one in which a private citizen files a lawsuit on behalf of the government, as well as themselves. Qui tam claims are filed under seal, but the federal government is notified. While the suit remains private, the government has the chance to investigate the allegations of fraud and decide whether or not to join the qui tam case as a party.
If your qui tam case is successful, whether or not the government joins, then you will receive part of the financial recovery. Depending on the situation, you may be awarded between 15 and 30% of the settlement or court award. In 2017, whistleblowers whose qui tam cases were resolved received $392 million, according to the DOJ.
To learn more about filing a qui tam suit related to a government contract, call a San Francisco qui tam lawyer from Willoughby Brod, LLP right away at (800) 427-7020.