Stanford University pays $1.9 million to settle charges it failed to disclose foreign research support when applying for federal proposals

by Ben Vernia | October 6th, 2023

On October 2, the Department of Justice announced that Stanford University had agreed to pay $1.9 million to resolve civil allegations that the university and its scientists had not disclosed funding from foreign sources when applying for federal research grants. According to DOJ’s press release:

Stanford University, located in Palo Alto, California, has agreed to pay $1.9 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by submitting proposals for federal research grants that failed to disclose current and pending support that 12 Stanford faculty members were receiving from foreign sources.

The settlement relates to research grants that Stanford received between 2015 and 2020 from five federal agencies: the Departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). All of these agencies require grant applicants to disclose all current and pending support received by the institution and the principal investigators (PIs) and co-PIs on the grant proposals. Current and pending support is defined as all resources from whatever source — including foreign government sources — that are made available to researchers in support of and/or related to their research endeavors.

The United States alleged that on 16 grant proposals submitted to the Army, Navy, NASA and NSF, Stanford knowingly failed to disclose current and pending foreign funding that 11 Stanford PIs and co-PIs had received or expected to receive in direct support of their research. The United States further alleged that Stanford knowingly failed to disclose to the Army, Air Force and NSF that a Stanford professor received research funding in connection with his employment at Fudan University, a foreign public university and from a foreign government’s national science foundation. In connection with the settlement, Stanford has agreed to work with the NSF Office of the Chief of Research Security Strategy and Policy on best practices in the areas identified by the United States.

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The case apparently arose from a government investigation, rather than from a whistleblower lawsuit.

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