Politics of enforcement : how the Department of Justice enforces the Civil False Claims Act
Wisner, Robert Brent.
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. When politicians speak of combating fraud against the government, they score points. The reason why is simple--fraud is bad. Every year the Department of Justice (DOJ) goes after and collects billions from government defrauders using the Civil False Claims Act (FCA). However, the Attorney General, a political appointee, runs the DOJ and determines the scope and level of enforcement. This study focuses on the politics of enforcement by testing whether political ideology impacts how aggressively the DOJ combats governmental fraud. This study uses data collected and released by the DOJ to determine whether the political party in control of the White House affects the number of FCA claims brought against government defrauders. Using multivariate analysis, this paper analyzes whether the number of FCA claims filed since 1987 changed as a result of the political party in control of the White House, controlling for other factors known to influence the volume of FCA claims such as the health of the economy, inflation and government spending. The results of this study show there is a statistically relevant correlation between the political orientation of the White House and how rigorously the DOJ combats government fraud using the FCA. On average, when a Democrat is in the White House, DOJ enforcement of the FCA increases by about 30%. Accordingly, the article proposes a series of Amendments to the FCA that broaden the power of individual (non-political) DOJ Attorneys to investigate and pursue FCA claims and require the Attorney General to make annual disclosures to Congress and the public. This article also recommends that Congress establish a permanent Subcommittee on Government Fraud to create an institutional infrastructure that can pressure the Attorney General to combat government fraud regardless of political orientation.
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