Testimony of Patrick Burns, Acting Executive Director, Taxpayers Against Fraud, Submission Before Parliament of Australia Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services

On Feburary 8 2017, Patrick Burns submitted a testimony  on the success of the American False Claims Act, the importance of its qui tam provisions, and its ability to combat fraud.

Acting Executive Director Patrick Burns noted that, "In the United States, Federal and State False Claims Act laws, which financially incentivize integrity, have worked to create public–private partnerships which have helped recover more than $65 billion back to the federal and state governments over the course of the last 30 years."

He also noted that this tool can be used in other nations, such as Australia, because they share common issues, "Enactment of strong anti-fraud laws should be an integral part of any debate over addressing national budget challenges. As nations struggle with rising deficits and looming budget shortfalls, programs that assist children, the elderly, and the infirm, as well as programs that strengthen infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and schools, are often put on the chopping block even as anti-fraud tools remain weak or unused. At a time when citizens may be asked to pay more, or get less, it’s critical to send a clear signal that fraud will be pursued with vigor."

Burns identified the importance of whistleblowers to the the success of the FCA program highlight the fact that 80% of FCA cases are whistleblower initiated.  Additionally, he noted the built in deterrents to abuse of the law namely: first-to-file requirements, liability to pay for the defense's legal cost if a suit is found to be frivolous, and that the "economics of False Claims litigation are such that bringing small cases is discouraged." 

Not only did he cite the safeguards about abuse, Patrick Burns clearly showed that the FCA and whistleblower laws are cheap ways to combat fraud. Citing the fact that for every $1 dollar invested in health care related FCA cases the Federal Government receives $20 that had been lost to fraud. This point was also highlighted by the fact that, "less than 200 cases a year are settled or adjudicated to conclusion at either the federal or state level, but these cases recover back to the U.S., and individual states, between $3 and $9 billion a year."