By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congressman Mo Brooks (R) from Huntsville issued a written statement to announce that the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education had held a committee hearing to examine stewardship of taxpayer dollars at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Representative Brooks is the Chairman of the subcommittee. The NSF Inspector General, Ms. Allison Lerner, testified before the subcommittee. The Research and Science Education Subcommittee is part of the larger House Space, Science, and Technology Committee.
Subcommittee Chairman Brooks said, “By identifying individuals who attempt to abuse the public trust or defraud government programs, the Office of Inspector General also enforces integrity in agency operations. It is my hope that the Office of Inspector General will continue to be a steward of taxpayer dollars, ensuring that NSF programs and awardees are managed responsibly.”
Inspector General Lerner said, “Since 2009, we have opened 70 investigations involving SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) awards, and we currently have 40 active SBIR investigations, 15 of which are being coordinated with the Department of Justice for possible civil/criminal action.” Ms. Lerner testified that the fraud includes “duplicate funding from more than one SBIR agency, conversion of award funds to personal use, and false statements in order for businesses to be eligible for the program.” Inspector General Lerner said that the NSF has implemented several recommendations that were made by the Office of the Inspector General to avoid future SBIR fraud.
Ms. Lerner said, “Our work reflects my office’s sustained commitment to helping NSF be an effective steward of taxpayer dollars and benefits from the support of NSF management across the Foundation.”
Ms. Lerner told the subcommittee that her office “is committed to providing rigorous, independent oversight of NSF. Since the agency’s primary mission activity is accomplished through funding external awardees, the success of NSF’s overall mission and the achievement of its goals are largely dependent on effective grant and contract administration.”
The Office of the Inspector General assesses the internal controls, the financial management, information technology, and other systems which affect the operation of NSF programs. OIG prepares semiannual reports to the U.S. Congress. In the September 2011 report to Congress, OIG found five research misconduct cases and recovered nearly $13 million for the government. Eleven audit reports and reviews have been issued and over $200,000 in questioned costs have been identified.
To read Representative Brooks statement in its entirety: