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The False Claims Act is a civil remedy for the restitution to the government of monies fraudulently obtained from the government. The Act provides for a civil suit, by either the federal government or a private plaintiff, for restitution plus a $2,000 statutory penalty where allegedly fraudulent claims have been presented for payment from the United States Treasury. Section 231 is the substantive provision of the Act delineating the circumstances in which a remedy will be available. Section 232 is the major procedural provision, and outlines the parties and the steps necessary to pursue a suit under the Act. Taken together, sections 231 and 232 are both broad and complex. The purpose of the Act is, quite simply, to protect the funds of the United States from false claims, and to provide for restitution of those funds obtained by fraudulent means. Recent cases emphasize that the forfeiture and damages provisions are specifically designed to make the government whole.

Although there is a wealth of case law concerning the Act, the greatest proportion of it deals with government contractors. Cases concerning the Act have generally arisen in the context of commercial contracts between the government and private parties, particularly with construction and machinery contractors. Another large category of cases stems from fraudulent claims for benefits made on government agencies like the Veteran's Administration and the Federal Housing Authority.

This comment delineates the potential scope of the Act's application to Members of Congress. The literal scope of the statute certainly includes Members; nowhere has it been posited that this is not the case.

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