If you discover that a company is committing fraud against the U.S. government, federal law permits you to file a lawsuit on behalf of the government. This is a qui tam action. After you have completed your filing, the government has the option to take over the case for you.
Sometimes the federal government will not join a qui tam. However, if government officials believe the lawsuit has merit, there is a time limit for the government to make its decision.
The initial 60-day period
The U.S. Justice Department explains that the government has 60 days to determine whether it will take up a qui tam action. This period starts from either one of two actions you take as a relator to the case.
One action is serving the Attorney General and the appropriate U.S. Attorney with the complaint. The other is the written disclosure of material evidence and information. The 60-day period starts on which action occurs at the latest.
Asking for more time
It is possible the government will find that 60 days is not enough to complete its investigation of your claim. If so, it may petition a court to extend the time period.
This is unlikely to be an automatic process. The preference of Congress is that the courts should ask the government for proof that it is conducting a serious investigation and has an actual need for an extension.
The importance of evidence
The need to further investigate a qui tam claim is often why the government petitions for more time. Presenting strong evidence could help the government come to its decision more quickly. Be aware of any documents or witnesses that could support your claim.