Gallup Polling is a name that has come to be associated with truthful and accurate polling, however, according to CNN, the numbers crunching giant has just agreed to pay $10.5 million dollars to settle claims that it defrauded the U.S. government by submitting federal false claims for payment.
Of the $10.5 million settlement, the whistleblower, Mr. Michael Lindley, who exposed the alleged wrongdoing, will be rewarded with $1.9 million.
“Whistleblowers are crucial in exposing practices that take advantage of the government and ultimately taxpayers,” commented Christopher Paulos, an attorney with the Levin, Papantonio law firm who practices in the areas of qui tam, or whistleblower, and false claim litigation. “Often, without the efforts of these brave individuals, the fraud committed again the government would go undiscovered.”
Mr. Lindley was formerly the Director of Client Services with Gallup. The lawsuit alleged that the company made false claims by knowingly overbilling the number of hours of labor it had projected for contracts for the Department of State and the United States Mint.
The government’s redoubled efforts to pursue corruption and exploitation of taxpayers is paying dividends. Recent changes in law have expanded the opportunities that allow whistleblowers to pursue claims on behalf of the government and be rewarded. For example, In 2012, under the IRS whistleblower program the United States Internal Revenue Service paid over $125 million dollars to whistleblowers for exposing tax fraud. By comparison, that number dwarfs the year before in which IRS rewards to whistleblowers were only $8 million. The government has also seen an increase in revenues from unpaid taxes greater than a factor of 10.
False claims can take many forms, ranging from falsifying numbers to obtain military contracts to overcharging Medicare for payments for treatments. Though varried, the party injured remains the same: the American taxpayers. The government provides payment for the services it requires and, unfortunately, some corporations or individuals take advantage of the government’s need for private services or good. Due to the rampant and unbridled fraud of the past, the Obama administration has committed itself to combating this type of wrongdoing.
For example, in 2009, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human services partnered to form the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT). Since its inception the HEAT program has charged defendants with defrauding Medicare and taxpayers of over $5 billion dollars. Law enforcement and fraud prevention officers unanimously agree that the single most effective tool in combating fraud against the government is the whistleblower.
Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.