Regents of the University of California to Pay 500k to Resolve Allegations of False Statements in Obtaining Grant Funding
The Regents of the University of California agreed to pay the United States $499,700 to resolve civil allegations under the False Claims Act that the University of California at Davis submitted false and misleading statements in connection with obtaining grants from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced Dec. 11.
JMR-Memphis1, Wikimedia CommonsThis settlement resolves claims that U.C. Davis: (1) failed to disclose the duplicative and overlapping nature of the university’s research associated with a DOE grant, an NSF grant, and a previous federal grant; (2) failed to accurately describe the research that had been funded by the NSF grant and the previous federal grant; (3) failed to disclose that the NSF grant and the previous federal grant were funding or had funded certain specific research tasks being funded with DOE grant monies; and (4) in progress reports and renewal applications submitted to the DOE, listed accomplishments achieved under the NSF grant and the previous federal grant, along with reporting accomplishments achieved under the DOE grant. The United States contends that these false and misleading statements caused the DOE and NSF to approve duplicative grant funding that these agencies would not have otherwise been awarded.
As part of the settlement, U.C. Davis has also agreed to take steps to prevent these events from reoccurring by supplementing its current research training program for undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctorate students with an hour-long module covering time and effort reporting, reasonableness of costs and other aspects of federal grants for a three-year period beginning in January.
“This settlement sends a clear message that recipients of federally funded grants must strictly adhere to the regulations applicable to those grants and fully and fairly disclose the information called for under these grants,” stated Benjamin B. Wagner, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California. “Recipients who fail to do so risk significant financial consequences.”
"The Department of Energy aims to fund innovative and transformative scientific research, but not research simultaneously funded by other Federal agencies,” said Gregory H. Friedman, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Energy. “This civil settlement should help deter such misconduct. Our Special Agents will tirelessly investigate any allegations of abuse that affect the integrity of the grant underwriting process."
“When more than one federal agency funds the same research, the integrity of the grant making process is undermined and scarce research dollars are diverted from other potentially valuable innovation,” said Allison Lerner, Inspector General, National Science Foundation. “This settlement agreement sends a strong signal that failure to disclose duplicative funding will not be tolerated.”
This case was the result of an investigation by the DOE Office of the Inspector General, and the NSF Office of the Inspector General, along with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California. Assistant United States Attorney Catherine Swann handled the matter for the United States. The claims settled by this agreement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.