Today, we were excited to hear that the Senate Judiciary Committee has sent long-needed amendments to the False Claims Act to the full Senate, as part of the “bailout” and “stimulus” inspired “Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act” (FERA).
Where there are taxpayer funds being spent, there will be attempts to engage in fraud to cheat the public. As hundreds of billions of dollars are poured into federal and state programs through the “economic stimulus” package, the continuation of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (“TARP”), the many federally funded health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and the vast defense procurement industry that is servicing two wars, opportunities for fraud will only increase. The speed at which the “stimulus” funds will be spent will only increase the opportunities for fraud.
Senator Grassley has been steadfast in his efforts to ensure that these taxpayer funds receive the protection of the False Claims Act, which is the primary civil weapon to combat fraud and false claims. This bipartisan legislation would restore the False Claims Act to its original intent by “undoing” several attempts by judges to limit its reach. Among the goals of the Amendments are:
–to clarify that False Claims Act liability protects all federal funds;
–to solely vest the Government with the power to dismiss whistleblower- filed False Claims Act lawsuits that are based on public allegations;
–to remove confusion over the statute of limitations period;
–to explicitly clarify that the False Claims Act applies to those who discover an overpayment and decide to pocket the funds; and
–to provide strengthened employment protection for whistleblowers.
All taxpayers should support these Amendments to the False Claims Act, and we applaud the Senate Judiciary Committee for this bipartisan effort to protect taxpayer funds.