It’s not just an open book. It’s more like a broken record marked by constant echoes.
Those would be utterances from William Barr’s past, which are now getting a big revisit in the whistleblowing universe commensurate with Barr’s recent rise to the helm as the U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General.
Barr’s arrival – he formally took his position on February 14 – has been widely anticipated, largely owing to his stated opposition to a program that has been lauded by legions over many years. That is the federal False Claims Act whistleblower program. We duly noted in our January 24 blog post that the whistleblower initiative enabling individuals to intervene on behalf of the government and collect personal recoveries in successfully prosecuted fraud cases has been “flatly salutary.”
In fact, it has achieved spectacular results, with whistleblower involvement reportedly being present in about 80% of all DOJ cases pursued last year.
We noted in our above-cited post that AG Barr “has criticized the long-tenured initiative.”
In fact, that is sheer understatement. It is more accurate to stress that he ridiculed and condemned it in prior years. Barr once termed the program an “abomination” and openly questioned the personal integrity of individuals willing to risk their careers and reputations to spotlight massive government fraud.
Ardent program supporters now hope that those sentiments are decidedly in the past, with Barr’s current thinking being comparatively enlightened by strong results he has seen over the years. The AG did assure legislators last month at his Capitol Hill confirmation hearing that he had no plans to purposely weaken the law.
Time will tell on the balance between his rhetoric and actions, of course. Broad-based program supporters who know the value that whistleblowers bring in exposing government fraud and securing claw-back recoveries against wrongdoers will be watching – and closely listening to – the AG.