A client just shared with me a Washington Post article from last year. Although a bit dated, it’s a great article with many lessons for today. It shows just how nasty and greedy some companies can become. If you think whistleblower retaliation is bad, wait to you hear the allegations in this story. This post involves an attack on the government itself and specifically the regulators charged with enforcing the law.
Our story begins with a company called FedBid. Located in Vienna, Virginia, FedBid is a private company that operates a reverse auction platform. Its mission is to help government agencies save money and become more efficient in their procurement process. After stories in the 1980’s of $900 hammers and $1400 toilet seats, we all agree that government purchasing can always be improved.
FedBid stepped into the fray and quickly became the largest reverse auction provider. For a new operation, the company put together a who’s who team complete with the former head of the White House Office of Federal Procurement Policy and a retired Army 4 star general, George W. Casey Jr.
So far, so good. Then in 2014, the Inspector General of the Veteran’s Administration began investigating the company for steering contracts. Trying to do the right thing, a VA official put a hold on further work with FedBid during the investigation.
A normal company might cooperate and work hard to clear its name and reputation. The Washington Post article, however, suggests that FedBid did the opposite. The Inspector General uncovered an email where a top company executive said of the senior VA official, “Need to assassinate his character and discredit him,”… “unleash the hounds”, “take off the gloves” and “storm the castle.”
Sadly, although whistleblower retaliation is highly illegal, we still hear offensive comments directed towards whistleblowers. But against a senior government official? This is a first.
Since that story was written last year, FedBid ultimately managed to clean up the mess and continues to do business with the government. One government official told me, however, that reverse auction procedures are much more stringent today.
This story isn’t about FedBid, it is about greed and corruption and the abuse of power. This story is a sad reminder that often fraudsters will lash out against those that shine a light on their illegal activities. If whistleblowers want the best protection against retaliation and hope to earn a large award, they need the best representation possible. They need the whistleblower lawyers of MahanyLaw.
Awards and the False Claims Act (FCA)
The federal False Claims Act (FCA) was passed during the U.S. Civil War. Under the FCA, whistleblowers with inside information about fraud involving government funds and programs can earn a cash award for bringing the misconduct to the government’s attention.
Awards are based on a percentage of whatever the government collects from the wrongdoers. To qualify, one must file a sealed complaint in a federal court. The government then investigates and can take over the case or allow the whistleblower’s own lawyers to prosecute.
In addition to huge possible awards, the law also prohibits retaliation. That includes character assassination, termination and demotions. As this case points out, some companies may be bullies. If that happens, you need a lawyer with a proven track record of standing up to these corporate giants. (We have collected tens of millions of dollars for our FCA clients.)
MahanyLaw – America’s False Claims Act Lawyers