A major non-profit biomedical research institute has agreed to pay $10 million to the Federal government in exchange for dismissing claims that it improperly charged the National Institute of Health’s grants for non-grant-related activities.
Federal prosecutors say the problems began a dozen years ago, as the firm did not then have in place a system for properly accounting for time spent on activities not related to NIH-funded projects. As a result of the failure to implement the system, prosecutors say individuals at the firm charged time spent on developing, preparing, and writing new grant applications to other NIH projects rather than to charge it as indirect costs.
Per prosecutors, the firm, which operates a campus in Jupiter, Florida, also charged time to NIH grants for activities completely unrelated to NIH projects, including teaching, committee work, and other administrative activities.
The allegations were brought to light via the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act (a/k/a “Lincoln’s Law”), which allow whistleblowers to sue on the government’s behalf and turn the suit over to federal prosecutors if they find sufficient merit to the claims.
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