Government Shutdown Halts Civil Fraud Cases

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner (photo by Randall Benton — Government Shutdown is taking a serious toll on whistleblowers, prosecutors, and investigators of civil False Claims Act cases, which involve fraud on the government such as healthcare fraud and defense contractor fraud. The Department of Justice (DOJ) recovered nearly $5 billion from civil False Claims Act cases in fiscal year 2012. Nonetheless, the DOJ agency responsible for these cases, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, is forced to cease prosecutions, discontinue investigations, and furlough critical employees (including civil division prosecutors) for the vast majority of its civil cases.

As noted by U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner, this furlough “comes on top of a three-year pay freeze, across-the-board sequester cuts and a hiring freeze.” Regardless of one’s political views on how government ought to be structured, under the current system, the federal employees involved in civil False Claims Act cases play a vital role in discouraging abuse of our taxpayer-funded programs and deserve much better than this congressional assault of pay freezes and furloughs.


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