The Supreme Court issued a decision recently finding that a private party that uncovers corporate fraud against the federal government as a result of a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request cannot obtain a court award on behalf of the federal government due to the False Claims Act (FCA) exceptions for "public disclosures." The FCA allows a private party to sue on behalf of the United States and be awarded a portion of any recovery the government receives from the lawsuit when the party uncovers fraud against the federal government. However, the statute prevents courts from hearing a case if the lawsuit is based upon one of several types of public disclosures, including information in a government "report." The Supreme Court's holding finds that a FOIA request is a type of "report" under the FCA. This decisions makes it more difficult for whistleblowers to use FOIA as a tool to challenge misuse of public money by contractors.
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