Earlier this month, the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales of the District of New Mexico announced an $11.75 million settlement they reached with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). The company, headquartered in Northern Virginia, provides engineering and technical services to commercial and government customers.
SAIC faced allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by charging inflated prices to train people to prevent and respond to terrorism attacks. Over the course of ten years, SAIC received six federal grants to fund its training program. The U.S. government alleged that SAIC grossly overestimated the cost of its projects by claiming to use more expensive personnel to carry out its efforts than the company intended to actually employ.
Richard Priem originally filed the lawsuit against SAIC under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. Under these provisions, a private individual can file a lawsuit on behalf of the United States government and share in a percentage of the settlement. As a former SAIC project manager for the first responder training program, Mr. Priem gained reliable and important information about SAIC’s allegedly fraudulent practices. His proportion of the settlement has not yet been determined, but it should yield a significant monetary amount.
Since the Civil War, the False Claims Act has combated widespread fraud against the United States government. While initially intended to combat defense contractor fraud, this law has been successfully used to punish fraud in numerous contexts, including healthcare fraud. The Act reveals the waste and abuse that restricts Government programs with good intentions and harms the American taxpayers who fund them. Mr. Priem and other whistleblowers should be applauded for their willingness to risk their jobs in order to reveal potentially fraudulent practices. Their efforts ensure that Government programs work efficiently and achieve their intended benefits.
If you are aware of violations of the False Claims Act, you should take action like Mr. Piem. For more information on how to find a qui tam law firm to represent you, please call (202) 973-0900 or fill out a Confidential Case Evaluation form.