Government Contractor Fraud
The federal government spends massive sums annually on contracts with private contractors and subcontractors. Whether providing defense support overseas or building equipment here in the United States, these private entities perform fundamental tasks. In return, they receive contracts often valued at several billion dollars or more, as well as significant discretion in the spending of these funds. In recent years, government contractors have increasingly come under scrutiny for fraud and misappropriation of public resources in the contracting process. Many resulting claims have arisen through the brave work of individuals who disclose this misconduct. From his New York office, whistleblower lawyer James T. Ratner has represented individuals nationwide for 18 years. He knows that legal action may be an option whenever the government has suffered financial losses related to fraud or wrongdoing, and he can handle any type of whistleblower claim.The False Claims Act and Government Contractors
The False Claims Act (“FCA”) is a federal law that has been in existence for over a century, but it has only recently been utilized to fight back against government corruption and fraud. It allows individuals with knowledge of fraud to bring claims, known as qui tam actions, on behalf of the U.S. government to recover the funds that have been lost due to fraud.
In 1986, the FCA was amended to allow claims under it to be brought against government contractors that were falsely billing the United States, lying about necessary credentials and certifications, or failing to provide the government with the standard of product for which it had previously contracted. In 2009, the FCA was amended yet again to allow even subcontractors and other parties affiliated with government contractors to also be held liable under the Act. Additionally, not only may contractors be held liable for fraud they have knowingly committed as entities, but also contractors and subcontractors may be held liable for fraud committed by their employees.Common Types of Fraud
As with many types of qui tam actions, one of the most common types of contractor fraud is falsely billing the government for products or services not actually provided. Thus, a contractor may have agreed to test all defense machines it has contracted to build before sending them to the government, but it may fail to do so and bill the government for such tests anyway. Or the contractor may claim that more labor was used in providing security abroad than was actually implemented. These types of overbillings may be incremental, but they can quickly add up to thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
Another type of fraud frequently seen among government contractors is fraud in the contract negotiation and procurement process. In order to obtain a contract with the government for the performance of a service or the provision of products, a government contractor must go through a lengthy bidding process that involves the submission of extensive technical and pricing data, as well as an overview of a proposed price, or “bid.” A contractor may also have to show that it can meet certain certifications or qualifications deemed necessary to the project. During this procurement process, the contractor may provide false pricing data in order to substantiate an inflated bid for the project and secure more funds than are actually necessary for completion. Or the contractor may falsify certifications in order to obtain a contract for which it is not otherwise qualified.
Finally, certain government contracts, known as GSA contracts, are susceptible to “best pricing fraud.” The General Service Administration (“GSA”) is an arm of the government that procures products for government offices and employees, such as desks and chairs. It obtains these items through contracts with outside private companies, known as GSA vendors. As part of these GSA contracts, the vendors are required to treat the government as they would treat their most favored private customer, thereby providing them with the best possible prices and discounts equivalent to those provided to any other customer. If a GSA vendor fails to do this and makes the government pay more than other customers are paying, this is another form of government contractor fraud.Discuss Your Qui Tam Claim with a New York Lawyer
When fraud against the government occurs, it is often too sophisticated to be easily detected. This has made the knowledge and efforts of whistleblowers all the more important, and it has increasingly resulted in high-profile and groundbreaking FCA claims. If you are a current or former government worker, or an employee of a government contractor who has reason to believe that fraud is occurring in the government contracting process, you have the right to take action against such corruption on the government’s behalf. Qui tam attorney James T. Ratner can bring claims based on health care fraud, pharmaceutical industry fraud, government contracting fraud, and any other form of misconduct against the government. Based in New York, he advises whistleblowers throughout the U.S. Call our office at (845) 688-5222 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.