In October 2021, the Department of Justice announced a new initiative focused on cybersecurity standard. The initiative was set to pave the way for new application of the False Claims Act, in an effort to crack down on government contractors who misrepresent compliance with certain cybersecurity standards. The False Claims Act generally provides remedy when a party knowingly submits or causes to submit a false claim for payment to the government. One way a claim can be deemed "false" is when an organization inaccurately represents that certain regulatory requirements or standards have been met
Specifically, the DOJ indicated an interest in FCA claims when the organization:
- knowingly provides deficient cybersecurity products or services;
- knowingly mispresents their cybersecurity practices and protocols; or
- knowingly violates obligations to monitor and report cybersecurity incidents and breaches.
Comprehensive Health Services (CHS)
On March 8, 2022, DOJ resolved it's first claim under the new initiative. DOJ alleged that CHS violated the FCA when it falsely attested to compliance with government contracts relating to the provision of medical services at government facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The government alleged that between 2012-2019, CHS failed to disclose that patient medical records had not been consistently stored on a secure Electronic Medical Record System. Records were saved to internal network drives and were accessibly to non-clinical staff.
The FCA includes significant motivation for whistleblowers because it allows an individual or organization to bring claims on behalf of the government and receive 15 percent to 30 percent of any civil recovery that comes from settlement, judgment, or verdict. This settlement shows a commitment to protect the safety, well-being, and personal information of State Department personnel.
If you have information related to failed compliance with cyber related requirements of a government contract, contact the experienced whistleblower attorneys at Keilty Bonadio for a free, confidential consultation.