8 December 1997 Memorandum To: File 196060035 Through: Subject: ' Closeout Memo O n 1 July 1996 the complainant) to cooperate; already being performed by ot ad embezzled funds from the -rtgage fund, and covered it up with The allegations were general in nature, and did not provide specific examples of the misconduct described above.. As a result, we were unable to determine the validity of these complaints. We examined account records from the three most recent awikds: . . This not reveal any irregularities or suggest areas for further review. During our review of we identified a potential conflict of interests hvolving Dr. who served in from August through August under an Personnel Act (PA) assignment from . In addition to his NSF position, ~ r p v e a s (de e e c r e t a r y , and t-isted him and his NSF affiliation on its etter ea resulted in was reviewed in November (~r-was not affiliated wit- award date was . At that time. NSF indicated its intent to continue support in the amount of 0 in FY 1 6, In a 29 April 1996 letter to NSF, the PI requested a six month extension of the award, which PI'S formal reauest for th Applicable Law Under 18 U.S.C. 5 208(a), a federal employee cannot participate 'personally and substantiallvn in a matter in which an organization he serves as an officer has a financial u interest. articipated personally, i.e. directly, and was an officer (Secretary) of th participation was not "substantialn under 5 208. This interpretation is interpretation of 9 208, which is set forth in 5 C.F.R. 3 2640.103(a)(2). This regulation states that '[tlo participate 'substantially' means that the employee's involvement is of significance to the matter. ... [I]t requires more than official responsibility, knowledge, perfunctory involvement, or involvement on an administrative or peripheral issue." In this case, NSF's original award letter of included a statement of its intent to provide the CGI in FY Dr.-recommendations pertained not to the substantive issue of whether to issue to the CGI, but rather the administrative procedure for carrying out NSF's original commitment. 9 208(a), an employee shall disqualify himself from participation in the matter . . . ."2 &* ' 1 5 C.F.R. 3 2635.101(b)(14). 2 5 C.F.R. 3 2635.402(a). See also 5 C.F.R. 3 2640.103(c). - Under NSF's Conflict-of-Interests Rules and Standards of conduct regulations,' a federal employee is "automatically disqualif[iedIn from handling proposals from an institution with which he holds an ~ f f i c e .The ~ regulations - instruct that in such cases, "You must not participate in handling [the proposal] under any circumstances" (emphasis in original).5 We s ~ o k eto NSF's Designated " Aeencv Ethics Official. who said that Dr. u z ad often sought his counsel on conflict issues. Mr. -said that Dr. not have participated in this award in this manner, an provided OIG with copies of recusal memoranda from ~r.- identifying his conflict on matters. In_2 -- memorand 1-.- -. - .- Mr. advised Dr. -that he "must not nciu ding- -prc - ,Is a n d ot er award-irelated matters) particip involvir allow tl SF mattel b ~ h ememorandum also advised Dr. -h to list vour NSF affiliation on :at 2;- participation and the use of his NSF affiliatio~ I the l e t t e r h e a d violated t e a vlce provided to him by MA O n December I interviewed ~ rtelephone. He said. that when the CGI ~ came to NSF in for the CGI. Dr. whether to only participation was to explain to Dr. C the process id that he had never engaged in substantwe lscussions about said that he did not think that anyone at NSF had had such discussions, because the CGI decision had already been made by the original review panel. He also said that he had not sought COI guidance from OGC or from because he was not involved in substantive discussions. Regarding the use of his NSF affiliation on s letterhead, he said that it had been listed that way because that was where he received his official mail while at NSF. Conclusion participation created only the appearance of a conflict of interests - . .than Because rather rD an actu conflict, and because his name and NSF affiliation were listed on the normally recommend corrective action to address these issues. is no longer associated with NSF, and no longer appears on the e is no longer Secretary. For these reasons, corrective action is unnecessary. In addition, the allegations regarding Drs. are not specific enough to identify specific incidents of misconduct, a a : m h e grants' financial documents did not indicate any misconduct or areas for further review. For these reasons, this case is closed as to Drs. an- 3 45 C.F.R. QQ 680-684. 4 45 C.F. R. 5 681.21(b). 5 . 45 C.F.R. Q 681.22(a).
Published by the National Science Foundation, Office of Inspector General on 1997-12-08.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)