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Fraud by the Numbers: No Defense for Defense Spending Fraud

Date Published
Sep 12, 2022

A version of this post was published by Taxpayers Against Fraud on September 11, 2022.

September 11, 2022. In FY 2021, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) budget was $703.7 billion. The combined net worth of 2021’s top six billionaires in the world is a bit more than that, at approximately $795 billion.

This is more money in absolute terms than any other country spends on defense.  It is also more than any other NATO country spends per person on defense at $2,186 per American. Therefore, every American has a stake in ensuring that money is spent well.

The False Claims Act is an established and proven way to fight fraud, and the original purpose of the False Claims Act was to combat fraud in government contracting. It was first enacted in response to reports of fraud in the supply of goods and services to the military during the Civil War. But while there are examples of how the Act has worked in the past, the False Claims Act has experienced waning utility in the past few years.

For 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported total settlements and recoveries of $119.6 million in Department of Defense (DoD) related matters, including cases filed by whistleblowers and cases initiated by the government itself. That is approximately 17 thousandths of a percent of the Defense budget. (0.0017%)

Cases related to fraud on the DoD have also become increasingly rare.  Only 52 False Claims Act cases were filed last fiscal year alleging fraud on the DoD – 27 initiated by whistleblowers and 25 by the government.  In comparison, during the same time, more than 9 times as many new cases were filed alleging healthcare fraud – 388 initiated by whistleblowers and 97 by the government.[1]

Is it possible this relative inaction in the False Claims Act is because there is no fraud at the Department of Defense?

Anything is possible, but no one, including the Government Accountability Office (GAO), believes that to be the case.  In a report from August 2021, GAO reiterated that “[t]he scope and scale of [DOD’s procurement] activity makes DOD procurement inherently susceptible to fraud.”

Like military service itself, whistleblowing is a volunteer opportunity, and Uncle Sam needs defense contracting whistleblowers to protect both military operations and the public fisc.

[1] Note:  False Claims Act recoveries on behalf of DoD may also include recoveries for health care fraud involving TRICARE, the uniformed services health care program for active-duty service members and their families.


If you would like to report government contracting 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

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