Grant Recipients & Researchers

The government spends hundreds of billions of dollars every year funding research and development and demonstration projects. These projects have been common areas for fraud and false claims, including at many of the nation’s most prestigious universities and research institutions. Some of the most frequent forms of fraud and false claims in grant and research funding include:

  • False statements in grant applications.
  • Funds not spent for designated purposes.
  • Billing salaries or expenses to the wrong grant (“cross charging”).
  • Charging basic personal expenses to a grant.
  • Inflating grant costs or salaries.
  • Unsupported direct charges to grants.
  • Improper/ineligible expenses.
  • Misrepresenting time or work done on a grant (“effort reporting”).
  • Falsifying research data or results.
  • Principal investigators’ undisclosed conflicts of interest.
  • Violations of grant terms and conditions.
  • Failing to comply with government safety regulations.
  • Falsifying purchase orders.

Case Examples

A number of successful False Claims Act cases have been brought alleging fraud and false claims by recipients of federal research funds or grant money. By way of example:

In 2013, Northwestern University agreed to pay nearly $2.93 million to settle whistleblower claims that a principal investigator at Northwestern’s medical school had violated the False Claims Act by submitting improper claims for unallowable expenses under research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including improper claims for food, hotels, and travel for himself and his friends and family. The whistleblower in this case was a purchasing coordinator in hematology and oncology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She received $498,100 as her share of the settlement. Read more.

In 2009, Cornell University’s Medical School agreed to pay $2.6 million to settle whistleblower claims that the school had violated the False Claims Act, by making false statements in connection in grant applications for federal research funds awarded by NIH. Read more

In 2005, the Mayo Foundation, the parent organization of the Mayo Clinic, agreed to pay $6.5 million to settle claims that the foundation had violated the False Claims Act by billing costs to federal grants unrelated to the research sponsored by those grants. The whistleblower in this case was an accounting associate in Mayo’s research accounting department. She received $1.3 million as her share of the settlement. Read more

If you have knowledge and solid evidence of fraud or false claims involving federal research funds or grant money, please contact our Chicago whistleblower attorneys.
Consultations are free and confidential.