The College of Staten Island (“CSI”), a college within the City University of New York (“CUNY”), has agreed to repay $98,237.86 in federal assistance awarded by the United States to perform research with the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”), to resolve a federal investigation concerning alleged fabricated research results.
Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Duane E. Townsend, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of the Inspector General, announced the resolution.
“Maintaining the highest levels of integrity and accuracy must be the bedrock of scientific research. This resolution demonstrates how research institutions should respond upon learning of alleged misconduct or fraud in connection with federally funded projects,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme. “When a federal award recipient fully cooperates with the government’s investigation, our Office will work with them to arrive at a fair and just resolution.”
“This investigation demonstrates the government’s resolve to protect the integrity of federally funded research and ensure taxpayer money is not wasted on dishonesty. We greatly appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the cooperation of the college in resolving this matter,” stated U.S. Department of Commerce Special Agent-in-Charge Townsend.
NOAA is a component of the United States Department of Commerce. In 2015, the Research Foundation of CUNY, on behalf of CSI, applied for and was awarded federal assistance pursuant to a cooperative agreement with NOAA to conduct a component of a research project to study the role of ocean eddies on the productivity of certain fish stock. The principal investigator for CSI was a professor who is no longer employed by the school. The work was required to be performed between September 2015 and August 2017. As a condition for receiving the funds, CSI certified, in part, that it was capable of managing the research project and ensuring that the required work was done.
In 2018, NOAA notified CSI that the principal investigator had not conducted the work required under the cooperative agreement and allegedly had fabricated research results submitted to NOAA. CSI then conducted an internal investigation and concluded, in part, that the principal investigator had committed research misconduct. After receiving CSI’s findings, the United States Attorney’s Office, with the support of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of the Inspector General, independently investigated NOAA’s allegations regarding the fabrication of research results. CSI cooperated fully throughout the investigation, providing documents and responding to government inquiries. The United States concluded that CSI failed to ensure proper management and completion of the research required under the cooperative agreement, and negotiated the resolution.
In addition to repayment of the $98,237.86 that CSI received under the cooperative agreement, CSI has agreed to modify its current policies and procedures concerning the supervision of federal funded research projects to ensure that the work required under federal awards is completed and to safeguard against research misconduct and fraud.
The government’s case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Bonni J. Perlin.