- How Do I Protect Myself from False Claims?
- The Justice Department has Contacted Me - What Happens Next?
The simplest way to prevent False Claims Act liability is to comply with contractual and regulatory obligations. This compliance requires the implementation of quality systems and procedures that minimize your company’s exposure to risk, and proper enforcement and monitoring of those procedures. Key areas of focus for compliance include:
- Implementation and Enforcement of Policies and Procedures – First and foremost, companies must ensure that they comply with the requirements of their applicable contracts, regulations and agencies under which they receive government funding.
- Education and Training of Your Workforce – Compliant policies and procedures must be accompanied by trained “frontline” employees who are aware of the rules and requirements and put those requirements into practical action. Regular training to educate all employees on the expected requirements is necessary to ensure compliance.
- Employee Communication – In our experience, most qui tam relators initiate their lawsuits as a result of complaints about some aspect of the business. They believe that they have been treated unjustly or observed something improper (though that may not be the case), and feel obligated to pursue a remedy. Companies should ensure open and adequate methods of communication to identify and resolve these problems.
- Identification and Resolution of Problems – When problems are identified, management must work to address those problems. If employees feel they are being ignored or their complaints are not treated seriously, they will report their complaints to the government — triggering a False Claims Act investigation.
- Internal Monitoring – Once policies and procedures are established and employees are properly trained, management must work to insure that the policies and procedures are followed. Compliance with policies and procedures should be systematically monitored through the appropriate means, including audits, spot-checks, process integrity reviews, and the like. Compliance monitoring should always extend to the procedures for reporting and resolving problems or complaints identified by employees.
Selection and Monitoring of Subcontractors – Any efforts at compliance cannot be limited to internal factors. Under the False Claims Act, contractors may also face liability for the actions of their subcontractors. As such, contractors must carefully select and supervise those subcontractors, paying particular attention to issues such as accounting and billing.