Florida Research Fraud Lawyer
In fiscal year 2020, the National Science Foundation (NSF) handed out over $155 million in research money. These funds went to private industry, universities and colleges, nonprofit institutions, and public-private partnerships known as federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), as well as state and local governments and even foreign governments.
The NSF is only one agency that issues research grants. Across the federal government, over $100 billion annually is disbursed through the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, and countless other agencies.
With thousands of grants disbursed across the country and around the world, fraudulent misuse of these monies often goes undetected by the NSF and other government agencies that fund research. We expect truth and facts from scientists, but with hundreds of thousands of researchers vying for a limited pool of dollars, it doesn’t come as a complete shock that some would defraud the government to get their hands on that money. With the help of the Florida research fraud lawyers at Guttman, Freidin & Celler, you can bring this fraudulent misconduct into the light, help the government recover the money, and receive a portion of the proceeds as a reward for your courage and help in putting a stop to research fraud.
A Closer Look at Research Fraud
Research fraud can include scientists fabricating data or falsifying results in order to get or keep grant money and other research funding. Researchers might falsify grant applications, progress reports, or the results of their studies. Other forms of research fraud include outright falsification of timesheets, equipment costs and project expenses in order to profit from the research money. Unscrupulous researchers might use the grant money for personal use and cover their tracks by falsifying documentation they submit to the funding agency.
A group of researchers interested in finding out how widespread the problem is conducted a meta-analysis of survey data in 2009 and reported their findings in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE. They found that nearly two percent of scientists admitted to fabricating or falsifying research data or altering or modifying results to improve the outcome. Even more significant, an estimated 14.12% reported having personal knowledge of a colleague who fabricated or falsified research data or altered or modified research results.
To help combat the problem of research fraud, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has established a Federal Research Misconduct Policy. This policy provides a federal government definition of research misconduct along with basic guidelines for appropriate conduct. This policy defines fabrication as making up data or results and recording or reporting them. The definition goes beyond research results, however, and includes raw data as well. These activities might be undertaken to justify their funding or secure more funding for further research, or they might simply be done for personal financial gain.
Whistleblowers Can Stop Research Fraud
Whistleblowers who know about research fraud can report the misconduct to the funding agency by making a claim under the federal False Claims Act (FCA). The agency will investigate and decide whether to pursue a civil claim against the researcher committing the fraud. If successful, the government agency can get a judgment for triple the amount of misused funds, so research fraud judgments can be significant. The agency will turn over 15 to 25% of the amount it collects to the whistleblower, known in the FCA as the relator, as a reward for coming forward. The exact percentage depends on the source of the whistleblower’s knowledge, such as whether it came from court documents, public records or the news media versus the whistleblower’s own personal knowledge.
If the government declines to pursue the matter, the relator can take on the case personally against the fraudulent individual or entity and if successful, can retain up to 30% of the amount collected. The whistleblower attorneys at Guttman, Freidin & Celler represent relators in these lawsuits with a high degree of success. Our firm also covers all the upfront costs of the litigation and only charges a fee after we are successful, so that individuals never have to worry about the costs of a suit or dealing with the technical requirements of proving a case of research fraud in court.
Stop Research Fraud at Your Institution. Call Guttman, Freidin & Celler Today.
If you are aware of somebody falsifying documents or otherwise getting research grant money from the federal government through false or fraudulent means, contact the research fraud attorneys at Guttman, Freidin & Celler by calling 800-654-8281 or contacting us online to speak with one of the nation’s leading whistleblower law firms.