Trouble at the Source: The Debates Over the Public Disclosure Provisions of the False Claims Act's Original Source Rule
59 Pages Posted: 2 May 2010
Date Written: 2009
The federal False Claims Act has long been a major tool in rectifying frauds, including healthcare frauds, perpetrated against the federal government. One of the most useful aspects of the Act is the ability of private citizens to sue on behalf of the government when they detect a fraud for which the government has not yet commenced an enforcement action.
Unfortunately, these private citizen suit provisions of the Act are less effective than they could be due to disagreement over how to interpret and apply them. In particular, the statutory language relating to “public disclosure,” critical to determining when citizens may sue, is hopelessly vague and has engendered numerous conflicts among courts.
This Article explains the confusion that has resulted from the public disclosure provisions of the Act, and suggests logical ways to interpret and apply them. Ultimately, the Article urges a clarification of the statutory language, so that the Act will provide clearer guidance to citizens contemplating suing under the Act. Ultimately, such clarification will encourage citizens to detect frauds against the government and to spearhead collections for violations of the Act, to the benefit of all of us and as the Act was intended.
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