If a company has been cheating federal or state government, then you can “blow the whistle” on their scheme and be rewarded up to 30% of what the government recovers. These recoveries sometimes amount to hundreds of millions, and even billions, of dollars.
Companies with government contracts can overcharge the government in variety of ways: increasing the bills, improperly certifying testing, up-coding, falsifying time cards, shipping substandard parts, etc. Indeed, schemes to defraud government seem to be boundless.
A “whistleblower” claim is brought under the False Claims Act, which is a law that protects people who come forward with knowledge of fraud on government. The False Claims Act is sometimes referred to as the Lincoln Law, because it was passed during President Abraham Lincoln's administration to combat fraudulent civil war contracting. The "qui tam" provision of the law rewards whistleblowers with a share of the recoveries to encourage people to take the personal and professional risks involved in reporting fraud.
You do not need to be a corporate insider or officer to bring a whistleblower claim. You do not even need to be an employee. Employees, customers, and competitors have successfully brought cases. Anyone who is aware of fraud on government can file a whistleblower claim. If you believe you have a whistleblower claim, do not discuss it with anyone other than your lawyer. These cases are filed under seal, meaning that they are not disclosed to anyone other than the government.