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Department of Justice Recovers Record-Setting $3 Billion in False Claims Act Settlements in 2011

On Monday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it collected more than $3 billion in judgments and settlements of fraud cases under the False Claims Act (FCA) for fiscal year 2011. This marks the second consecutive year in which the DOJ exceeded $3 billion in recoveries and brings the total recovered since 2009 to $8.7 billion – the largest ever three-year total.

Of the $3 billion recovered during fiscal year 2011, a record $2.8 billion was recovered under the whistleblower, or qui tam, provisions of the FCA which allow individuals to file lawsuits on behalf of the government and, as an incentive, offers whistleblowers a portion of the amount recovered. $2.4 billion of the amount recovered for fiscal year 2011 involved fraud against federal healthcare programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and the Department of Defense’s TRICARE program.

Assistant Attorney General Tony West offered his praise for whistleblowers who have come forward to report fraud, saying “we are tremendously grateful to whistleblowers who have brought fraud allegations to the government’s attention and assisted us in this public-private partnership to fight fraud.”

In 1986, the FCA was amended to increase the incentives offered to whistleblowers. According to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a co-sponsor of the amendments, the FCA has “[proven] to be the most powerful tool in rooting out fraud against the federal treasury.”

“The whistleblowers who bring these cases to light know the secrets hidden by those who are ripping off federal taxpayers,” he added. Since the 1986 amendments, the DOJ has successfully recovered more than $30 billion.

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