You probably have some familiarity with whistleblower laws. However, do you know what the very first one was?
The National Whistleblower Center explains the first law to protect whistleblowers occurred in 1863 and is known as the False Claims Act. It occurred under the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.
This first whistleblower law came about as a way to stop suppliers from sending troops goods and services that were not up to standards. It allowed people to turn in the suppliers without fear of something bad happening to them as a result. At the same time, it helped to reduce fraud against the government.
Over time, the act has had revisions, but the same general concepts remain. The act provides the ability for people to help prevent fraud against the government that will result in financial loss. It allows anyone from anywhere to serve as a whistleblower and applies to any actions anywhere in the world that would impact the U.S. government.
The act includes claims that could prevent the government from collecting money, as well. Such claims are reverse false claims.
The qui tam
One of the most important aspects to come from the False Claims Act is the qui tam. This allows people to file a lawsuit for the U.S. government. It allows whistleblowers to have protection and to gain rewards for disclosing fraud. The act also stipulates that whoever first files a claim is the person with the right to the compensation or reward from the claim.
The False Claims Act is one of those pieces of legislation that is incredibly successful. Not all acts of legislation can stand the test of time and work in the way this one does. It is still applicable after more than a century.