FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 19, 2012
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University of the District of Columbia Agrees to Pay $530,000
To Resolve False Claims Act Allegations
Agreement Involves Grant Money from the National Science Foundation
WASHINGTON - The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) has agreed to pay $530,000 to the United States to resolve allegations that UDC submitted false claims for payment on a National Science Foundation grant, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Allison C. Lerner, Inspector General for the National Science Foundation.
The National Science Foundation awarded the grant in June 2004 for UDC’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Research and Training Center. Among its objectives, the grant was to establish the STEM program, increase enrollment and graduation rates in STEM disciplines, incorporate research in certain STEM courses, and provide undergraduate students with research experiences at STEM Center laboratories.
The settlement resolves U.S. claims that, during the grant period from 2004 to 2009, contrary to federal Office of Management and Budget cost principles governing grants to educational institutions, UDC failed to maintain adequate documentation. This documentation was to ensure that expenditures of funds – for example, those for salaries and stipends – were reasonable, allowable, allocable, and/or used consistently with the programmatic purposes of the award. The settlement also resolves claims that, contrary to the terms of the grant, UDC re-programmed certain funds without prior approval from the National Science Foundation.
As part of the settlement, UDC has additionally agreed to implement a four-year compliance program, the purposes of which are to ensure that UDC complies with the terms and conditions applicable to National Science Foundation awards, complies with all relevant laws and regulations governing the awards, and demonstrates its commitment to the prevention of fraud, false statements, and misspending of funds related to the awards.
The settlement agreement is neither an admission of liability by UDC nor a concession by the United States that the claims are not well-founded. The parties agreed to resolve the matters without litigation.
“The National Science Foundation’s STEM programs are a vital component in developing a diverse and well-prepared workforce of scientists, engineers, and educators,” said Inspector General Lerner. “This settlement agreement will result in more than $500,000 in false claims involving STEM grant funds being repaid to NSF. We will closely monitor UDC’s implementation of the compliance program as it seeks to strengthen its oversight and use of NSF funds.”
In announcing the agreement, U.S. Attorney Machen and Inspector General Lerner commended the work of the investigative team from the National Science Foundation’s Office of Inspector General. They also acknowledged the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorney Beverly Russell, who handled the matter.