The federal government is the largest source of academic research and development funding in the U.S. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) provide the largest portions of federal research and development funding to U.S. colleges and universities, followed by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, National Aeronautics Space Administration, and U.S Department of Agriculture. In all, some twenty-six separate federal departments and agencies award more than $120 billion in grants each year to fund basic research, applied research, advanced technology development, and similar projects. State governments also award a variety of grants.
The government has established requirements through statutes, regulations, and guidance documents that universities, colleges, and other research institutions must follow when applying for, administering, and reporting the results of federal research grants. Grant recipients must correctly document personnel expenses and the acquisition of research equipment and supplies, must compile, manage and report on the project’s budget, and must accurately report subaward amounts and recipients. These requirements are intended to ensure transparency and effective use of government funds, while helping to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.
Given the billions and billions of dollars that the government awards in the form of research and other grants, experience has shown that fraud — sometimes significant fraud — can and does occur at universities, colleges, foundations, and other institutions. Common examples of fraud in this area include:
A number of the nation’s most prestigious and well-known universities and institutions have been required to make significant repayments to the federal government. In the words of a U.S. Justice Department official: “Individuals and institutions that receive research funding from the federal government must be scrupulous in conducting research for the common good, and rigorous in rooting out fraud.” Successful FCA cases include:
These are just a few examples of the sorts of cases that can be brought under the False Claims Act. A wide variety of misconduct can constitute fraud in the area of government grants and research. If you believe you have information regarding fraud, please contact us for a free, confidential consultation.
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