UC Davis to pay $500,000 for false reporting on federal grants

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said Thursday that the University of California will pay nearly $500,000 to resolve allegations that its Davis campus submitted false and misleading statements to obtain federal grants.

The government contends that UC Davis personnel were untruthful and misled the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation to obtain duplicative grant research funding that the agencies would not have otherwise awarded.

The settlement was reached through negotiations; there was no court case.

In a telephone interview, UCD spokesman Andy Fell said the university acknowledges no liability and admits to no wrongdoing.

He said that the university agreed to refund $499,700, and the government agreed to release about $200,000 to UCD in grant funds that had been withheld pending the settlement.

The government claims that, between March 1, 2006, and Feb. 11, 2009, UCD officials failed to disclose the duplicative and overlapping nature of research associated with a DOE grant, an NSF grant and a previous Laboratory Directed Research grant.

It also claims that UCD failed to accurately describe research funded by the grants and deliberately credited accomplishments of two grants to a third grant.

As part of the settlement, UCD agreed to add to its research training program an hourlong class on “time-and-effort” reporting, “reasonableness of costs” and other aspects of federal grants.

“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 describe the information called for,” said Wagner in a prepared statement.

Also in a prepared statement, Inspector General Allison Lerner of the National Science Foundation said, “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.”

Call The Bee’s Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.