U.S. Department of Justice to Test a New Whistleblower Reward Program

On March 7, 2024, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced a plan to test out a new whistleblower reward program for people who report corporate or financial crimes. According to Monaco, this program will be used “proactively” and is meant to “fill gaps” left by the important but not all-encompassing whistleblower reward programs under the Federal False Claims Act, the SEC, CFTC, IRS, AML, and NHTSA whistleblower programs; and other state and federal whistleblower reward programs.

While the exact parameters of the program have not yet been announced, a whistleblower will likely need to satisfy four requirements to be eligible for a reward:

  1. They need to provide truthful information;
  2. They need to be the first to provide it;
  3. They cannot be involved in the criminal activity;
  4. There cannot be another whistleblower reward program that covers the activity.

As with other whistleblower programs, reporting early should have huge advantages. If you have concerns about potential misconduct and are wondering which whistleblower reward programs may apply to your situation, or you’re looking for another way to address your concerns and be protected against retaliation, the attorneys in our Whistleblower & Retaliation Practice Group are here to help.

While we wait for DOJ’s rules, there are many unanswered questions about what shape the pilot program will take. For example:

  • Will it be retroactive, so that people who report now are considered under the program if they meet eligibility rules? Why wait to start getting tips?
  • Will there be a minimum reward percentage, like the 10% minimum in the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Programs or the 15% minimum in the IRS and FCA programs? This is important because minimum reward thresholds provide assurances for whistleblowers risking their careers;
  • Will there be a cap on the dollar amount of the rewards? Caps have potentially disastrous disincentives for some of the most knowledgeable people to come forward;
  • Will whistleblowers remain confidential? Confidentiality, and even anonymity, is a hallmark of the Dodd-Frank programs, and provides protection against harassment and retaliation;
  • Will the DOJ work closely with whistleblowers and their attorneys to leverage their knowledge, skill, resources, and capabilities? The False Claims Act and Dodd-Frank whistleblower programs, which rely on collaboration, have been enormous successes, and provide a model for the DOJ to follow.

Pro-whistleblower answers to each of these questions will be critical to answering the biggest question of them all – how much of a success does the Department of Justice want this pilot program to be? We should know more by this summer – stay tuned.

(*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.)