According to the Department of Justice, The Gallup Organization has agreed to settle a False Claims Act case for $10.5 million. In August 2012, the government partially intervened in the whistleblower lawsuit that was filed in October 2009.
Gallup, based in Washington, D.C. is the country’s most well-known polling firm. The whistleblower, Michael Lindley, was Gallup’s director of client services from February 2008 until he was terminated in July 2009. According to Lindley, he was terminated after threatening to report Gallup’s alleged overbillings to the government.
According to the whistleblower, Gallup routinely submitted inflated bills to the U.S. Mint, FEMA, the U.S. Passport Agency and other federal agencies for polling services provided for various government programs. The whistleblower alleged that Gallup essentially maintained two sets of books: one set reflecting the real costs to perform the work and a second set that was submitted to government agencies that contained inflated costs. It was further alleged that the government paid Gallup based on the inflated estimates rather than on Gallup’s actual, much lower, costs to perform the work.
As an example of the False Claims Act violations, the qui tam Complaint cited a $2 million annual contract with the U.S. Mint to conduct surveys concerning the likely purchasers of newly minted coins. The government alleged that Gallup reported more than double the actual number of hours needed to complete the work in the budget it submitted to the U.S. Mint.
The whistleblower asserted additional claims against Gallup that were not adopted by the Justice Department in the government’s decision to intervene. Lindley settled those claims earlier this year as part of a confidential settlement.
Lindley will receive approximately $1.9 million of the settlement amount as his reward under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.