Report on Research Compliance Volume 19, Number 8. In this month’s eNews: August 2022 | Healthcare Compliance Association (HCCA)
Research Compliance Report 19, no.8 (August 2022)
◆ An audit of San Francisco State University (SFSU) by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) that tested over $1.9 million out of $13.8 million dollars of costs claimed on 35 awards as of September 2, 2021, found just $260 of ineligible expenses. “We selected 50 transactions with discernment,” explained the auditors. The largest expense category was equipment ($1,162,603), followed by sub-grants ($379,916), salaries and wages ($122,259), other direct costs ($80,990), materials and supplies ($55,675) and travel ($34,498). The only ineligible expense was part of a single award. “In March 2017, SFSU charged NSF Award No. [redacted] for $260 of expenses claimed by a traveler for a canceled flight. However, since SFSU had taken out travel insurance for the flight, it should have claimed reimbursement for this expense. Because SFSU chose to purchase a new flight rather than reschedule and/or seek reimbursement for the canceled flight, the cost of the canceled airfare is not eligible,” the auditors said. In its response to the draft audit that the OIG shared with SFSU, SFSU agreed to reimburse these costs.
In addition, the auditors “identified three compliance-related findings for which no costs were questioned: non-compliance with NSF terms and conditions, non-compliance with SFSU policies, and insufficient compliance-related controls. ‘application of indirect cost rates’. The report also identifies an “area of improvement that SFSU needs to consider with respect to the timeliness of effort certification,” as auditors found five awards where efforts were certified from 165 to 1,668 days. after the end of the performance period. SFSU has agreed to update its overhead rates. The report did not include any response from SFSU regarding the effort reporting recommendations. (07/21/22)
◆ In fiscal year 2021, the NIH funded 1,513 new early career investigators (ESIs) on grants equivalent to R01, Michael Lauer, director of the Office of Extramural Research, announced July 18.. “This unprecedented new level of support for WISEs represents an increase of 7.2% over FY2020. As there were 5,410 applicants in total, this represents a funding rate of 28.0%,” wrote Lauer on his OpenMike Blog. This follows FY2020’s total of 1,412 ESIs, which at the time was a “record high”, he said.
Other data showed that early-career men had a higher funding rate (28.6%) than women (27.7%). Asians had the highest discussion and funding rates (62% and 28.8%), followed by white interviewers who had the same discussion rate and funding rate of 28.2%. Discussion and funding rates were lowest for black or African American researchers (46.8% and 23.2%, respectively). The data also shows that the funding rate for at-risk researchers – defined as those who have already been awarded a grant but do not have a grant after the first one expires – has fallen. In fiscal year 2021, the NIH funded 2,026 of these researchers, down from 2,108 in fiscal year 2020. “The funding rate for this group also fell to 25.4%, from 27.0 % the previous financial year. That said, it is important to note that there were more at-risk applicants and winners in FY2021 compared to when we began tracking this group in FY2016,” Lauer said. (07/21/22)
◆ Although the nomination was received on June 22, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has yet to schedule a hearing on Arati Prabhakar to be the next director of the House Office of Science and Technology Policy. White (OSTP).. The position requires Senate confirmation. In his June 21 announcement, President Joe Biden called Prabhakar a “brilliant and highly respected engineer and applied physicist.” The announcement noted that she “has already been unanimously confirmed by the Senate to lead the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and was the first woman to hold this position. She later served as Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The post comes with other related roles: Prabhakar would also be assistant to the president’s chief science and technology adviser, co-chairman of the Presidential Council of Science and Technology Advisors, and a member of the president’s cabinet. Eric Lander, the former director of the OSTP, resigned on February 16 following a bullying scandal. The OSTP is important to research universities as it is currently involved in the implementation of a national security memorandum designed to protect the research enterprise from undue foreign influences, amid fears of a lack of harmonization and overbreadth. (07/14/22)
◆ Following an audit that tested over $1.5 million of $25.9 million in costs claimed from the NSF by the West Virginia University Research Corporation (WVURC) from September 1, 2017 through August 31, 2020, “Auditors questioned a total of $43,156 in direct and indirect costs claimed by WVURC during the audit period,” according to a July 5 OIG report.. The largest category of disputed costs was $23,018 in unattributable and unreasonable expenses, which related to five transactions charged to four awards, consisting of a $10,650 liquid helium recovery system, $7,800 in posting costs , $4,256 in travel (destination redacted), and $235 for AirPods. Auditors said the helium charges should have been done on multiple awards. The posting fee was “a mistake” and the trip was wrongly awarded to an award that had not been transferred to WVURC. Targeting AirPods, the report said they “were useful for listening to webinars, the knowledge of which was used in the NSF project. However, AirPods were not used exclusively on the NSF award. According to WVURC, they were used for general work to hold online meetings and listen to webinars on various devices.
The second-largest category of disputed costs was $17,335, which included two computers, an iPad, supplies, storage fees, and conference registration, all of which were spent near or after the expiration of an award. For example, the iPad was purchased seven days after expiration and a computer was acquired with 32 days remaining on the reward, while the conference registration was spent 103 days after the reward expired. WVURC accepted all findings and promised to refund. (07/14/22)