The False Claims Act (FCA) provides for the imposition of penalties against those who make false or fraudulent claims to the government in exchange for payment. To help enforce its provisions, the FCA allows individuals to bring qui tam actions against violators of the Act. But the FCA bars qui tam actions that are “based upon the public disclosure of allegations or transactions” in an “administrative” “report” or “investigation,” unless “the person bringing the action is an original source of the information.” 31 U.S.C. § 3730(e)(4)(A). The question in this Supreme Court case was whether an administrative agency’s response to a request for records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) constitutes an administrative “report” or “investigation” within the meaning of the FCA. In our amicus brief, we argued that such responses should not be considered administrative reports or the products of administrative investigations: individuals should not be prevented from using FOIA as a means of combating fraud perpetrated against the government.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in favor of the petitioner on May 16, 2011.