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Article Summary

Thirty years ago, President Reagan signed the False Claims Amendments Act of 1986, an anti-fraud measure whose extraordinary success is a timely reminder of what’s possible when Washington acts in a focused, bipartisan spirit.

This article by TELG managing principal R. Scott Oswald was published by The Hill on October 25, 2016. The full article is .

Excerpted from:

Freeing the False Claims Act

Thirty years ago, President Reagan signed the False Claims Amendments Act of 1986, an anti-fraud measure whose extraordinary success is a timely reminder of what’s possible when Washington acts in a focused, bipartisan spirit.

Inspired by reports that contractors were charging the U.S. military $7,600 apiece for coffee makers, among other scandals, the statute gave fresh teeth to the venerable False Claims Act, a law originally signed by Abraham Lincoln to combat fraud by suppliers to the Union Army.

Since 1986, according to a Department of Justice tally, the retooled FCA has allowed the federal government to claw back $50 billion wrongfully billed to taxpayers, an astonishing haul that actually understates the law’s effect, because it omits both criminal penalties and the FCA’s deterrent effect.

Yet the FCA remains under perennial assault from corporate interests and ill-informed court opinions. Time and again, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), an author of the 1986 bill, has rallied his colleagues to stave off these attacks. President Obama has signed three separate bills to clarify important aspects of the FCA.

After 30 years of playing defense, it’s time to recognize the FCA’s huge success and build on it. To date, two simple issues have stopped this law from reaching its full potential. Both are easily solved.

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