THE EMPLOYEE AS BOUNTY HUNTER
Did you know that if you turn in someone who is making false claims against the federal government you can get 15 to 25% of whatever the government recovers? For example, suppose you are aware that a private vendor is submitting false claims for payment and that those payments amount to over $100,000.
There is a statute known as the “False Claims Act” which gives anyone, even federal employees, a share of whatever the government recovers. All the employee need do is file what is commonly called a “Qui Tam” lawsuit, which is a lot easier than you might think because there are law firms out there waiting to take these cases on a contingency basis. (See Phillips and Ashcraft & Gerel for their terms, but FEDSMILL.com in no way endorses them nor has it received any compensation for mentioning them. We cite them solely for the information value of their web sites.)
So, if in the course of your duties you uncover evidence of anyone making a false claim on the government, think carefully about your next step. For example, let’s say that management has contracted out work to a private vendor whose employees work side-by-side with your members. Assume further that you learn that the vendors’ employees are leaving early, padding their hours, or even certifying they accomplished tasks that were never done. Generally, those would qualify as false claims, which you could verify by either filing a FOIA request for the billing records or in some cases an information requests under 5 USC 7114(b).
Or perhaps you have members in a private building where the owner to billing the government for providing HVAC at a certain levels, security, prompt correction of safety hazards, etc., but it has not met those standards. You may have a qui tam claim that the building owner is falsely claiming reimbursement for services not provided.
The Congressional Research Service has published a wonderful guide to this area of the law. If interested, you might want to work from it to publicize among your members this opportunity to not only help protect the federal government from fraud, but also get paid extra for doing it.