WASHINGTON, D.C. | March 20, 2020 — This week, Congress passed the second piece of legislation allocating funds for response to the coronavirus crisis, which President Trump approved and signed. A bill enacted in early March allocated $8.3 billion to fight and treat the virus; the latest bill allocates $100 billion for sick leave, childcare leave and other measures. Additional legislation is expected in the coming days, with hundreds of billions likely to be sent to private businesses as well as individuals to address the coronavirus crisis.
The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) today is launching a Coronavirus Accountability Campaign, sending a letter to Attorney General Barr calling upon the Trump Administration to address the need for transparency and accountability in federal coronavirus spending.
John Kostyack, NWC Executive Director stated: “In light of the gargantuan scope and rapid pace of this federal spending, we should anticipate that rogues and profiteers will leap at the opportunity to divert large amounts of coronavirus funding for their own purposes. The only way to stop this, and to ensure that coronavirus funds go to those in need, is to enlist whistleblowers to help the government prosecute the wrongdoers to the fullest extent of the law.”
Working with partners in government, the private sector, academia and the nonprofit community, NWC will strive to:
- Ensure that Congress includes transparency and accountability provisions, including whistleblower protections and incentives, in future coronavirus spending bills so that taxpayer dollars go to public health and other authorized purposes, and not waste, fraud and abuse;
- Ensure that the Trump Administration puts in place its own transparency and accountability measures to ensure that coronavirus funds are spent in accordance with the law. This includes prioritizing investigations of claims of whistleblowers and prosecuting those engaged in misconduct exposed by whistleblowers;
- Provide whistleblowers with the information and tools they need, including access to qualified legal counsel, so that they are incentivized to report waste, fraud and abuse in connection with the coronavirus crisis without fear of retaliation.
Kostyack continued: “The coronavirus crisis threatens all parts of our society, from the health and well-being of individual citizens to the continued operation of businesses we depend on for everyday services. We need leadership from Congress and the Administration to ensure that funds allocated to address this crisis go to their intended purposes and are not fraudulently diverted. But we cannot rely on government to do this alone. We need whistleblowers to help ensure that the funds go to those who so badly need them.”
NWC’s letter today follows up on its March 16, 2020, letter to Attorney General Barr calling for establishment of a Task Force to Combat Coronavirus-Related Fraud, led by the U.S. Department of Justice. This Task Force would take responsibility for, among other things, swift and effective prosecution of “qui tam” whistleblower cases under the False Claims Act, which has a long and successful track record of holding fraudsters accountable, especially those engaged in health care fraud. Of the $3 billion in monetary sanctions recovered by the federal government under the False Claims Act in FY 2019, $2.6 billion was recovered from companies found to be engaged in healthcare fraud.
For more information, please contact Nick Younger at firstname.lastname@example.org.