Memorial Day is fast approaching, a holiday when we honor and reflect upon those who, in the immortal words of President Lincoln, gave their “last full measure of devotion.” The formal commemoration of Memorial Day began in the aftermath of the Civil War and was originally known as Decoration Day, likely in part due to Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, Major General John Logan’s order calling for a day of “decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.” By 1971, Congress codified the day as a federal holiday.
Another outgrowth of the Civil War was the False Claims Act. The original purpose of the Act was to take on fraud and corruption among defense contractors during the Civil War. The statute effectively deputizes individuals – referred to colloquially as whistleblowers and more technically as relators – to act on behalf of the United States to prevent fraud across government.
The False Claims Act has evolved over the years until taking shape in its modern form in the mid-1980’s. The statute’s reach has grown and covers a variety of false or fraudulent claims made to and payable by the United States. All three branches of the federal government recognize the False Claims Act is the government’s primary tool for recovering losses sustained as the result of fraud.
Even to this day, a large focus of government oversight and contractor accountability remains the defense industry, for good reason. According to the Congressional Budget Office, approximately one-sixth of federal spending goes to national defense, whether fielding and equipping forces, feeding them, providing healthcare to them, etc. When that money is lost to fraud it can compromise combat readiness and endanger troops needlessly. The government pays to have the best equipped, trained and cared for force in the world and those who commit fraud undermine our commitment to our troops.
The government relies on whistleblowers for recovery and deterrence of future wrongdoing. As Sen. Chuck Grassley recently described in the Fraud in America podcast, “most people that work for government just want the government to do what government’s supposed to do” and “when it isn’t being done, they are patriotic people. They may not even know they are what you call a whistleblower, they may not even know about the protection that whistleblowers have under whistleblower protection laws, they just want the government to do what’s right.”
This Memorial Day when we commemorate all of the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice, it’s worth bearing in mind that the best way to honor those who serve our country is to assure the funds allocated to supporting and protecting them are not lost to fraud. If you believe you have a whistleblower case and need to find a whistleblower lawyer, you can search the TAF whistleblower attorney directory, comprised of more than 400 experienced practitioners.
Written by Jon Kobrinski, Esq. of Buckner + Miles