In her latest article for Forbes.com, Phillips & Cohen partner Erika Kelton champions the importance of whistleblowers and the False Claims Act in preventing fraud as the US government spends $2 trillion on pandemic-related relief and recovery.
At a time when taxpayer funds are being stretched to address a global pandemic and the need for those funds has never been greater, the specter of massive fraud should spur strict oversight over how the government spends $2 trillion that Congress appropriated for coronavirus aid and relief.
Yet there are ominous indications that the coronavirus aid package won’t get the strong oversight that is needed to prevent and stop fraud.
What we need are whistleblowers – those willing to come forward to let us know when taxpayer funds, which millions of people are depending on, are being wasted or siphoned off by fraud.
Whistleblowers have played an important role for decades in the oversight of government spending, exposing thousands of cases that have cost taxpayers billions. Whether it was former Defense Department official Ernie Fitzgerald, who exposed $2 billion in cost overruns for a military transport plane in 1968, or more recent whistleblowers, who have helped the government recover over $33 billion from healthcare fraud cheats – those individuals have been our eyes and ears to alert us to wrongdoing.
Whistleblower cases under the False Claims Act have resulted in more than $45 billion in civil recoveries and billions more in criminal fines. It is the government’s strongest weapon for fighting fraud involving public funds.
With the White House intent on gutting accountability and a beholden attorney general, America needs its whistleblowers to step forward to protect public funds and help this country get back on track. We will not be able to ensure that trillions of dollars in taxpayer funds are spent where truly needed without them.
Read the entire article “Wanted: An Army of Whistleblowers,” on Forbes.com.