oversight

COI (NSF)

Published by the National Science Foundation, Office of Inspector General on 2017-05-30.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                                                 NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
                                                  OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
                                                    OFFICE OF INVESTIGATIONS

                                             CLOSEOUT MEMORANDUM

 Case Number: A13030043                                                                     Page 1 of 1



         A research scientist from an outside institution, on duty at NSF as an NSF Program Officer 1 (PO)
         pursuant to an Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignment, ignored guidance provided to her by
         the Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO) and her division Conflicts Official (CO) with
         regard to the management of a cooperative agreement on which her home institution was a
         subawardee. The DAEO and CO told her that her role was limited to providing subject matter
         technical expertise and that she could not participate substantially in the management of the
         agreement. However, her section head 2 subsequently told her that she could do everything
         regarding managing the award except sign documents uploaded to the NSF eJacket award
         management system. Two fellow program officers 3 also followed the section head’s guidance
         and facilitated the Subject’s participation.

         Her activities included attending project oversight committee meetings with awardee and
         subawardee representatives (including from her home institution). She also reviewed numerous
         quarterly reports and funding requests, and drafted analyses and funding recommendations for
         fellow POs to sign and upload, which included funding for her home institution.
         Contemporaneous emails from the Subject, the section head, and one of the two fellow POs who
         acted as the PO of record for the cooperative agreement at various times 4 indicate that they were
         aware that the Subject continued to engage in conduct that was inconsistent with advice provided
         by the CO and DAEO, and thought that they could maintain an appearance of compliance by
         attaching an unconflicted PO’s name to emails drafted, determinations made, and actions taken
         by the conflicted PO.

         The PO’s conduct established an apparent violation of 18 U.S.C. § 208. We therefore referred the
         matter to the Department of Justice, which declined prosecution. The Subject’s conduct also
         established an apparent violation of the administrative conflict-of-interests standards. We
         recommended NSF review these violations and determine if the PO, her fellow POs, and the
         section head violated conflicts standards, and if so, take appropriate action. NSF determined that
         the PO, her section head, and one fellow PO 5 did violate the standards, and took administrative
         action against them appropriate under the circumstances (all three had either returned to their
         home institutions or retired).

         Accordingly, this case is closed.

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NSF OIG Form 2 (11/02)