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FCA Recoveries Decline despite Increase in Enforcement Activity

by | Apr 19, 2023 | News, Open Content

The DOJ's 2022 Fraud Statistics Overview shows it raked in less than 50 percent of what it recovered in FY 2021.

While it may sound like a lot of money, the just over $2.2 billion that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recovered in False Claims Act (FCA) settlements and judgments in fiscal year (FY) 2022, which ended on September 30, 2022, is less than 50 percent of the nearly $5.7 billion it recovered in FY 2021. It’s also the lowest total over the last 15 years since the $1.42 billion of 2008.

DOJ FCA Recoveries, FY 2017 to FY 2022

Fiscal YearNon-Qui Tam RecoveriesQui Tam RecoveriesTotal Recoveries
Source: DOJ, Fraud Statistics Overview. Accessed April 11, 2023.

Other key takeaways from the DOJ’s report on FY 2022 FCA recoveries numbers:

Healthcare Sector Is Footing the Bill: The one thing that never changes from year to year is the sector that’s paying out the most money. Thus, of the total $2.2 billion in FCA recoveries in 2022, more than $1.7 billion (almost 80 percent) came from healthcare cases. 

Volume of Enforcement Activity Is Increasing: The low recoveries total belies the fact that the government and whistleblowers were involved in 351 settlements and judgments, the second-highest number in any single year. The only explanation for this paradox is that damage awards and settlement amounts in individual cases are way down. 

Most of the Money Is Coming from Qui Tam Suits: After last year’s statistical oddity in which total actions initiated by the government more than doubled qui tam recoveries, things returned to normal in FY 2022, with whistleblower suits accounting for over $1.9 billion (roughly 86 percent) of all FCA recoveries. The DOJ paid out $489 million in awards to the whistleblowers who brought these cases.

New Qui Tam Suits Are Continuing at a 600 Per Year Clip: There were also 652 new qui tam lawsuits filed last year. That’s the eleventh time in 12 years that new whistleblower suits topped 600. This year’s total represents a rebound from FY 2021 when new qui tam suits fell to 598 after reaching 676 the year before. 

DOJ Is Staying Out of Qui Tam Cases: When whistleblowers file a qui tam suit, the DOJ must decide whether it wants to intervene in the case. More than $1.1 billion of the total 2022 FCA recoveries (approximately 50 percent) came from qui tam actions where the DOJ declined to intervene in FY 2022. That’s the first time in history that declined qui tam actions outpaced intervened qui tam actions in FCA recoveries. While noteworthy, this development is consistent with recent DOJ FCA qui tam intervention policies that were initiated by the Trump administration. 

DOJ Actions Are Also on the Rise: The DOJ initiated 296 FCA actions in 2022, the highest total since 1987 (340) and significantly above the 212 it initiated in 2021. The recent growth in non qui tam FCA actions began in FY 2020 when DOJ actions leapt from 150 to 261.

See the full article in our May 2023 National Lab Reporter, posted in advance of PDF publication.