August 15, 2013 —The United States government works regularly with private contractors, but these government contracts also carry the risk of overbilling and fraud. Overbilling by government contractors wastes taxpayer dollars. Through the False Claims Act, the U.S. Justice Department works with informants and tipsters with unique information to attack government contractor fraud. Under the qui tam language in the federal False Claims Act, whistleblowers may file a lawsuit on behalf of the government and keep a portion of the government’s recovery.
Gallup Consents to Pay $10.5 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations
The Gallup Organization (Gallup) has reached a $10.5 million settlement with the government to resolve allegations that it overbilled the U.S. Mint and U.S. State Department. The Department of Justice alleged Gallup obtained a valuable extension on federal contracts through a contracting agent for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) who was seeking a job with Gallup. The contracting agent allegedly helped bypass the competitive bidding requirements and secured the extended contracts for Gallup. Gallup is one of the best known polling firms headquartered in Washington, D.C.
The whistleblower, Michael Lindley, was Gallup’s former Director of Client Services. Lindley filed a False Claims Act suit alleging that between 2007 and 2009, Timothy Cannon, a former FEMA director for the “human capital division,” offered Gallup overly generous contracts with the U.S. government. The Department of Justice joined the whistleblower’s lawsuit last year.
In 2007 and 2008, Cannon was actively seeking employment with Gallup in a well-paid position. By early 2009, Cannon and Gallup were negotiating Cannon’s salary. In the two weeks between January 21 and February 3, 2009, Cannon awarded FEMA contract extensions worth $1.6 million to Gallup. On February 5, 2009, Gallup gave Cannon a written offer of employment. Later that month, Cannon resigned from FEMA, allegedly representing to the government that he did not have any outstanding offers of employment, even though this was not the case. To cover his tracks, Cannon allegedly asked Gallup for a new employment offer that would postdate his resignation and Gallup issued the letter in March.
The whistleblower lawsuit alleged that Gallup offered a job to Cannon in return for the extended government contracts, and that the contracts included inflated fees for Gallup. Under the qui tam provisions of the false Claims Act, the whistleblower will receive over $1.9 million as his share of the government’s recovery.
Company Insiders Can Help Stop Government Contractor Fraud
Insiders deserve to know their rights under the federal False Claims Act and to understand the safeguards offered to tipsters who collaborate with the government. The qui tam lawyers at Waters & Kraus offer skilled representation and counsel to whistleblowers every day. Contact us by email or call our whistleblower attorneys at 855.784.0268 to learn how we can guide you through this process.