In a series of posts (Part 1), I’m examining the Department of Justice’s annual Summary of False Claims Act cases and recoveries to see what these statistics might reveal about FCA enforcement trends. In the first post, we looked at the rising number of new FCA matters that were filed last year. But who gets the credit? Let’s find out.
Rise of the Relator
Only looking at the number of new matters is misleading: Although more investigations and cases are initiated each year, the credit (some might say blame) goes to qui tam relators-otherwise known as whistleblowers.
The following illustration shows the total number of new matters (in black) between 2000-2012, as well as the new matters that were initiated by the government (in red).
Though the number of new matters ballooned between 2000-2012, those attributed to the government did not. The number of government-initiated new matters has remained relatively flat for the past 12 years, rising to a high of 162 in 2008 and sinking to a low of 61 in 2002.
The rise in new FCA matters is mostly a result of more whistleblower cases being filed each year. A look back at the number of government-initiated matters, as opposed to qui tam matters, bears this out. The most matters the government initiated was in 1987, the first year it began publishing statistics. But after that, the number of government-initiated matters steeply declined until 2000, since when it has remained flat.
This illustration might suggest that the government is less focused on bringing new FCA cases or opening new investigations. The more likely explanation, however, is that the government is devoting more resources and effort to investigating and litigating the allegations of fraud that are being brought by relators as those numbers have ballooned.