The False Claims Act (FCA) stands as a pivotal tool in combating fraud against the government and the misuse of taxpayer funds. On the newest episode of Defense TechCast, Leslie Weinstein spoke to Julie Bracker, a False Claims Act attorney based in Atlanta. She shed light on the intricacies of this legal framework and the incentives for whistleblowers to come forward. 

Bracker’s firm specializes in FCA cases nationwide, specifically representing whistleblowers. “Federal False Claims Act is what the federal government calls its primary tool for addressing the knowing misuse of taxpayer funds,” Bracker explained.

“More than $65 billion has been recovered under the False Claims Act. And the basic gist of it is, if you have knowingly submitted or caused to be submitted a claim for payment to the government that was you knew was false when you made it, then you are subject to the act.”  

That money can be recovered, including treble damages and civil money penalties ranging from $3,500 to $13,000 per claim. 

One of the key aspects Bracker highlighted is the role of whistleblowers in FCA cases. Whistleblowers, also known as relators, play a crucial role in exposing fraud and are incentivized to do so by receiving a percentage of the recovered amount, ranging from 15% to 30%. This incentive structure encourages individuals with insider knowledge of fraudulent activities to step forward and collaborate with the government in recovering misappropriated funds. 

Bracker also discussed the Civil Cyber Fraud Initiative within the Department of Defense (DoD), aimed at enforcing cybersecurity standards and practices among contractors and entities handling classified information critical to national security. The initiative targets knowing failures to comply with cybersecurity standards, misrepresentations of security controls, and failures to timely report cyber incidents. 

In cases related to the DoD’s cyber fraud initiative, Bracker highlighted the importance of relators in providing critical insider information to support investigations. While the FCA cases are typically filed under seal to allow for confidential investigations, relators’ cooperation with government agencies is pivotal in building strong cases against fraudulent actors. 

Overall, Bracker’s insights underscore the vital role of the False Claims Act in safeguarding taxpayer funds and promoting transparency and accountability in government contracts and payments. Whistleblowers, supported by the FCA’s incentives and protections, continue to play a crucial role in uncovering and addressing fraud against the government. 

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