An alphabet soup of United States government agencies spends billions of dollars each year on research and new technology. The money comes from, among others, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Defense (DOD), including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). These agencies generally have strong systems in place to identify promising grant recipients, but they are less well-equipped to protect against the frauds that sometimes occur.
That is why the government often relies on whistleblowers to identify government grant recipients who have deceived the government or misused government money. Whistleblowers have received millions of dollars in rewards after bringing qui tam cases that alerted the Department of Justice to government grant and research frauds.
Common types of government grant and research fraud include:
- Providing false information, such as claims of minority or veteran ownership, to meet the eligibility criteria for federal grants.
- Overcharging government agencies for the time spent on research projects or for the materials and labor needed for the projects.
- Falsifying the results of experiments and studies in order to obtain funding from the government.
- Using grant funds for personal or non-research related purposes.
- Offering bribes or kickbacks to government authorities or other third parties in order to obtain grants or government contracts.
When Gregg Shapiro was a Department of Justice prosecutor, he brought a False Claims Act case involving a recipient of an NIH grant whose lab manipulated microscopic images to make it appear that his research was more promising than it actually was. The case settled for $10 million. Gregg also brought and supervised numerous other cases involving misuse of other grants, including NSF small business grants. His extensive experience with these types of cases enables him to counsel potential whistleblowers on whether they might have a case and then, when appropriate, to present that case to the government in a compelling manner.