March 4, 2022. President Joe Biden reiterated his vision to “transform America and put us on a path to win the economic competition of the 21st Century” during his March 1, 2022 State of the Union address.
To achieve that vision, billions of government funding is going towards infrastructure, broadband Internet access, cybersecurity, COVID-19 relief, and healthcare programs. Contractors are queuing up to receive those funds and build bridges, lay fiber-optic cables, and provide healthcare services, and they are entrusted to spend that government funding properly.
Infrastructure & Government Contracts
President Biden said in his address, “We’re done talking about infrastructure weeks. We’re now talking about an infrastructure decade,” referring to the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Some $110 billion is allocated to fix roads and bridges and bring up American infrastructure from its current rank of 13th in the world.
Construction contractors not only need to use a carpenter’s square to make right angles in their project plans, they also “must turn square corners when they deal with the Government,” as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. wrote in 1920.
Common fraudulent activity in government contracts includes:
- Obtaining contracts through false statements in bidding documents
- Misrepresenting the cost of projects or underbidding contracts
- Cross-charging or improperly cost allocating among contracts
- Delivering products or services that do not meet contract specifications
Government contractor employees involved with fixing the “over 65,000 miles of highway and 1,500 bridges in disrepair” with knowledge of wrongdoing should step forward and contact an experienced qui tam attorney.
Supporting American Jobs and Businesses
Next, President Biden touted “buying American,” specifically, “when we use taxpayers’ dollars to rebuild America, we’re going to do it by buying American.” The President continued, “There’s been a law on the books for almost a century to make sure taxpayers’ dollars support American jobs and businesses. Every administration – Democrat and Republican -says they’ll do it, but we’re actually doing it.” Potential whistleblowers, take note: failure to comply with the Trade Agreements Act (TAA) constitutes fraud against the government. TAA requires that the U.S. government only purchase goods made in countries with which the US has trade agreements. Misrepresenting the origin of materials purchased for a project as part of a government contract is fraud and a violation of the False Claims Act.
Further in the address, the President championed allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs. Medicare Part D prescription drug fraud can take many forms, including pharmaceutical manufacturers paying kickbacks to physicians in exchange for prescribing their drugs, as well as pharmaceutical companies developing schemes to avoid collecting patient copays, circumventing the institution of copays as cost-controls. The Department of Justice has recovered more than $1 billion in Medicare drug fraud and whistleblowers in the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare settings can help report fraud.
Words Welcoming Whistleblowers
President announced two “crackdowns” on ocean carriers’ pandemic price-gouging and on worsening conditions in nursing homes, stating that “Medicare is going to set higher standards for nursing homes […] and they will look at that closely.” Nursing home workers, take note.
President Biden included a shoutout to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, thanking her for speaking up and “hold[ing] social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit.”
Related to pandemic relief fraud, the President said, “In my administration, the watchdogs are back,” announcing that the Justice Department will soon appoint a chief prosecutor for pandemic fraud. The watchdogs are indeed back, and reporting fraud, waste, and abuse of government funds is an important civic duty during President Biden’s administration.
If you would like to report government contracting, Medicare, cybersecurity, or other government programs fraud, you can contact attorneys at Tycko & Zavareei LLP. Eva Gunasekera and Renée Brooker are former officials of the United States Department of Justice and prosecuted whistleblower cases under the False Claims Act. Renée served as Assistant Director at the United States Department of Justice, the office that supervises False Claims Act cases in all 94 United States District Courts. Eva was the Senior Counsel for Health Care Fraud. Eva and Renée now represent whistleblowers. For a free consultation, you can contact Renée at [email protected] (tel.: 202-417-3664) or contact Eva Gunasekera at [email protected]. You can also go to Tycko & Zavareei LLP’s website for whistleblowers to learn more at https://www.fraudfighters.net/.