I was sitting in my office last week thumbing through the latest issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education – the diary of news in the academe – and it hit me that story after story touched on what my colleagues and I call “organizational integrity.” Universities should increasingly focus on their integrity – their values, their culture, their own sense of right and wrong – as the bedrock of their organizational decision-making, risk management, and compliance. And, when their reputations are threatened,  universities should try to ground their response in those same values.
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In December 2019, an entire class of West Virginia prison guard trainees was reportedly fired for giving the Nazi salute in their graduation photo.

The incident is not only a chilling display of a detestable symbol of genocide. It is also a crystal-clear example of the problem of the passive bystander. But modern training methods, based on current research on the science of bystandership, can help prevent such abuses before they occur. Such programs are being successfully adopted by law enforcement agencies and other organizations around the country.
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Synopsis

The academic scandal that rocked the University of North Carolina from 2011 to 2014 epitomizes the need for decisive action to respond to circumstances that threaten an organization’s integrity. Failing to respond – or delaying such a response – can threaten an organization’s reputation for candor and transparency. Organizations must not react reflexively in these situations; rather, organizations must react in a way that bolsters or restores its integrity. And, where appropriate, organizations must accept responsibility, adopt and implement meaningful reforms, and transparently report what happened.
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On Monday, May 14, 2019, the Supreme Court issued a decision essentially expanding by four years the time available for private suits to be brought by relators under the False Claims Act (“FCA”), regardless of whether the Government decides to intervene. In Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Hunt, No. 18-315, 2019 WL 2078086 (U.S. May 13, 2019), plaintiff-relator Billy Joe Hunt filed a complaint on November 27, 2013, alleging two defense contractors (collectively, “Cochise”) violated the FCA in 2006 and 2007 by submitting false claims for payment under a subcontract providing security services in Iraq. The United States declined to intervene, and Cochise moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the action was barred under the FCA’s statute of limitations clause, 31 U.S.C. § 3731.
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) appears to be taking to heart the policy articulated in what has come to be called the Granston Memo, as it has recently sought dismissal of 11 False Claims Act (FCA) cases in various federal courts across the country, in part on the grounds that the allegations “lack sufficient merit.” The Granston Memo, issued in January of last year, encouraged DOJ attorneys to seek dismissal of qui tam FCA suits “to advance the government’s interests, preserve limited resources, and avoid adverse precedent.” The 11 suits of which DOJ seeks dismissal all share the same legal theory: drugmakers who arrange patient education on proper drug usage and who assist with prior authorizations are essentially providing an illegal kickback to the prescribing physicians in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute.
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The United States District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently issued a decision unsealing a False Claims Act case over the objections of the government, the relator and the defendant.[1] In United States ex. Rel. Brasher v. Pentec Health, Inc. No. 13-05745, 2018 WL 5003474 (E.D.P.A. Oct. 16, 2018), a case initially filed five years ago, the government filed a motion to continue the seal – which happened to be its eleventh such motion – arguing that additional time was necessary, in part, to finalize its decision whether to intervene in the action, as well as to pursue settlement options. The Court disagreed.
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