Last year on Fraud By the Numbers, we examined how many dollars were recovered under the False Claims Act compared with the amount that the government is spending. It’s time for an update!
In fiscal year 2021, the federal budget was a whopping $6.82 trillion – the highest dollar amount ever – up from $6.55 trillion in 2020, which was the previous record. That’s an increase of about $27 billion – over four times the reported $5.6 billion total recovered under the FCA in 2021.
That there was tremendous government spending should not be surprising: the country and the planet were still reeling from COVID-19, and the government spent an unprecedented amount of money on assistance for struggling businesses, development of treatments and vaccines, support for hospitals and medical professionals fighting the pandemic, and gear to protect them and others, amongst other things.
Where there is massive government spending, there is massive fraud, and 2021 was no exception. You hear about additional fraud schemes being uncovered every day, particularly with respect to Paycheck Protection Program fraud, but the schemes you hear about in the news only scratch the surface – and only barely!
The government recovered $5.6 billion under the FCA during 2021, which is a big jump from the $2.2 billion recovered in 2020 – however, a large chunk of the $5.6 billion are attributable to a couple of very large cases. $5.6 billion is only 0.09% percent of the federal budget, while fraud accounts for a loss of around 7% of the federal budget per year, which means that there is another $444.8 billion being lost to fraud that the government is not recovering.
For that amount, you could buy Twitter ten times over and have some change leftover! Or, even better, we could raise the salaries for each of the approximately 3.1 million public school teachers in the U.S. by $50,000 AND spend the estimated $197 billion in improved infrastructure and maintenance for our nations schools to bring them up to a level that the Department of Education considered “good,” and still only clock in around $352 billion.
Clearly, we have work to do. Tomorrow we will take a look at the cases being filed by whistleblowers and the government under the FCA in relation to the total civil cases brought by the government.