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Army Lawyer

ARTICLE: Government Employees as Qui Tam Relators

August, 1996

1996 Army Law. 14

Author

Major David Wallace * Professor, Contract Law Department, The Judge Advocate General's School, United States Army, Charlottesville, Virginia

Excerpt

Introduction

The English translation of the Latin phrase "qui tam pro domino rege quam pro si ipso in hac parte sequitur" is "he who sues on behalf of the King as well as himself." 2 To combat fraud against the government during the Civil War, Congress tapped private resources by passing "qui tam" legislation authorizing private parties to bring lawsuit on behalf of the government as "qui tam relators." For more than a century, a share in the potentially lucrative monetary recovery has provided qui tam relators ample incentive to vigorously prosecute qui tam lawsuits.

The contemporary concern for financial efficiency in government causes some, like Senator Thurmond, to see a conflict of interest between government employment and the potentially lucrative benefits of serving as a qui tam relator. Should govemment employees have standing as qui tam relators under the False Claims Act (FCA)? 3 Senator Thurmond answers that question with a resounding "No!" Federal courts, however, have not shared Senator Thurmond's opinion. Since the 1986 amendments to the FCA, conflicting federal court opinions on this question have lead to uncertainty and confusion in the contracting community. 4

This article addresses the qui tam relator issue through a six part analysis. It introduces the issue, provides the legislative history of the qui tam provisions to the FCA, discusses the present statutory scheme, evaluates the federal case law, addresses the policy considerations of government employee relators, and finally recommends a solution to resolve this issue.

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