In today’s world, false claims cases brought against companies that are worth millions of dollars are often overshadowed by those that are worth billions. This was certainly so with a recent case involving national security and defense issues. The $4.3 million settlement announced last month between Boeing and the Defense Department of the United States was barely mentioned in major news outlets. In this case, Boeing was alleged to have improperly billed the Pentagon for its work on building and refitting Chinook helicopters for the Army. These helicopters are vital to the military’s effort to modernize its fleet with the best possible equipment. They also are deployed and used extensively to airlift troops and equipment in our ongoing mission in Afghanistan. Federal investigators found that Boeing was instructing their workers to perform non-billable work, but then billed the government for their time, thus charging for work that had already been paid for in pre-negotiated sessions. In a time when the military is stretched to its limit and is under enormous pressure to make budget cuts, this false billing has added to the strain of maintaining an effective, efficient fighting force.
We learned about this false claims case as a result of the courage of whistleblower Vincent A. DiMezza, Jr. As a former Marine, Mr. DiMezza was well aware of the cost of the company’s actions to the resources of the Defense Department, and could not sit idly by while Boeing took advantage of the need to maintain modern defensive capabilities for our country. The fact that major media companies like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, or other nationally recognized press outlets did not cover this litigation is disheartening. As much as we say that individuals who witness fraudulent activities must come forward, they are only half of the equation. It is the responsibility of the rest of us, including the media outlets, to publicize those illegal actions. If there isn’t a large public outcry followed by government action, what is there to deter these companies from continuing to game the system?
The work that Boeing is tasked with completely is vital to the military’s efforts to confront an ever-changing battlefield. We needed and received the whistleblower’s assistance in working with the Justice Department to expose these crimes. What we didn’t see was the spotlight being shone on Boeing and their practices by the major newsmakers. The duty to report illegal activities against the government falls to everyone, especially when it comes to the efficacy of our national defense. Mr. DiMezza did the right thing and will be rewarded for his courage in helping the government, but more must be done to pressure companies to see that defrauding the government should not be a part of a proper business model.
Egan Young, Attorneys-at-Law, represents whistleblowers nationwide. For a free confidential consultation, please call Eric L. Young, Esquire at (215) 367-5151 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org