The U.S. Department of Justice reported this week that it recovered $5.6 billion in criminal and civil fraud payments in fiscal year 2011, including more than $3 billion under the civil False Claims Act.  The fraud recoveries set a one-year record for DOJ; the FCA recoveries capped a record-setting three-year period during which DOJ recovered $8.7 billion. The figures underscore the Obama administration’s aggressive pursuit of fraud and false claims.

DOJ said its fraud recoveries were primarily driven by investigations into Medicare, mortgage, grant and contracting frauds. Officials said the recoveries were much-needed revenue generators for the federal government in a time of record debt and deficits.

“These recoveries far exceed the cost of the agents and prosecutors who secured them,” said Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole at a press conference alongside Vice President Joe Biden. “For every dollar Congress has provided for health care enforcement over the past there years, we have recovered nearly seven.”

Health care fraud –including Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare—accounted for $2.4 billion of the FCA recoveries in fiscal year 2011. Procurement fraud cases accounted for $422 million in fiscal year 2011.

Qui tam relators filed 638 suits FCA suits in 2011, far exceeding the average annual rate for the past decade. For contractors, these statistics make clear that—now more than ever—timely government contracts counseling is necessary to ensure compliance and avoid becoming a casualty in the government’s escalating war on fraud and false claims.