What happens when a government contractor who thinks its contract performance complied with applicable statute or regulation later learns that it actually was out of compliance? Are its invoices for that performance false claims that violate the False Claims Act?
The answer depends on whether the contractor acted “knowingly.” A March 30, 2012 decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals highlights the fact that proving a False Claims Act violation requires not only the submission of a claim that is false, but also that the false claim was submitted “knowingly”—the contractor knew the claim was false or acted with deliberate ignorance or reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the claim. United States ex rel. Drakeford v. Tuomey Healthcare System Inc., No. 10-1819 (4th Cir. Mar. 30, 2012) [pdf].