San Francisco Whistleblower Lawyer Jeffrey Keller Explains History of the False Claims Act

When it comes to fraud, large sums make for large targets. Nowhere, perhaps, is that more the case than for the nation’s defense budget. In fiscal year 2013 alone, the U.S. government recovered close to $900 million in settlements and judgments related to overbilling and other procurement fraud. Helping to identify such wrongdoing — and spur the recovery of taxpayer funds — are whistleblowers.

In a Google Hangout, Jeffrey F. Keller, a partner at the labor and employment law firm Keller Grover and a veteran whistleblower lawyer, discusses the role of the whistleblower in beating back fraud against the government.

“The False Claims Act empowers whistleblowers giving them a legal mechanism to help expose fraud on the government, ,” says Keller.  “It recognizes the risks these individuals take in stepping forward by awarding them a percentage of any recovery the government ultimately obtains. At the same time, it protects whistleblowers, prohibiting retaliatory actions against them and providing for remedies if such retaliation occurs. It’s a statute that works.  By leveraging the inside knowledge that can identify and root out fraud, the False Claims Act has spurred the recovery of more than $34 billion since the mid-1980s.”

In recent years, defense spending has accounted for some 20 percent of the federal budget. And the fraud can be similarly outsized. In one case in fiscal 2013, the government recovered nearly half a billion dollars stemming from inflated prices for aircraft engines.

“It’s not just small hustlers lining their pockets, but large, well-known defense contractors,” says Keller, whose firm has offices in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. “All told, this is billions of dollars that is not being put to its intended use. But whistleblowers, and the statutes that empower them, are helping to reverse that.”

Indeed, the False Claims Act has been so successful recovering improperly paid funds, that many states — and even federal agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Internal Revenue Service — have launched their own whistleblower initiatives.

The Google Hangout with Jeffrey Keller is the 2nd in a series of conversations with the whistleblower lawyers at Keller Grover.  Future episodes will look at other types of fraud — and how whistleblowers are helping to beat them back, too.

Jeffrey Keller, a partner at the San Francisco whistleblower law firm Keller Grover, and a veteran whistleblower lawyer.  Jeffrey Keller explains False Claims Act and how it empowers and protects whistleblowers when they report fraud on the government.

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