The Washington Post has reported that over 900 qui tam cases are in the Justice Department's backlog. These are cases which allege fraud against the government brought by whistleblowers with inside knowledge on behalf of the government. The cases are examined by the government for merit to give the government an opportunity to join in on the suit. In the meantime, everyone waits, according to the Post:
"Even if no new cases are filed, it might take 10 years for the Department of Justice to clear its desk. Cases in the backlog represent a lot of money being left on the table," said Patrick Burns, a spokesman for Taxpayers Against Fraud, which advocates for Justice to receive more funding to support cases by whistle-blowers and their attorneys.
According to the Post piece, Justice Department lawyers have such a massive backlog because they do not have the manpower to tackle the cases in a more timely matter.
But others believe the political priorities of the current Administration are playing a role:
Critics argue that the delays are at least partly the result of foot-dragging by Justice and the federal agencies whose position it represents, especially in the touchy area of suppliers that may have overbilled the government for equipment, food and other items used by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Justice lawyers have rejected about 19 cases involving contractor fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan, registering five settlements that resulted in $16 million, officials said. Government officials said this week that they are considering whether to dive into 32 more whistle-blower cases involving Iraq or the Middle East.
-- Nick Schwellenbach