A whistleblower is someone who reports illegal activity to authorities. Typically, the situation involves an employer or other entity of importance.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the False Claims Act is a whistleblower statute that allows for a specific type of action called qui tam.
Qui tam is when someone brings a lawsuit on behalf of the government against someone or business that is trying to harm the government in some way. Under the False Claims Act, the qui tam protection was for citizens who wished to protect the government during the Civil War.
At that time, there were issues with vendors trying to rip off the government when selling supplies. The act allowed anyone discovering such shady dealings to file a lawsuit for the government.
The False Claims Act has gone through many changes since it went into effect in 1863, but in general, it continues to provide for qui tam actions. When filing this type of case, the court seals the matter for 60 days. During this time, the government will investigate. They can extend the seal for longer if needed. After investigation, the government officials will decide the next steps in the case.
The idea of qui tam is a type of whistleblower activity. It aims specifically to protect the government since government officials cannot be everywhere at once nor see all activities occurring. It can help reduce fraud against the federal agencies, which is beneficial to citizens since fraud always costs taxpayers in the end.
Having the False Claims Act provides a structured way for qui tam actions to occur. It makes it easier for citizens to look out for the best interests of the government.