Grant and Research Fraud

The federal government awards sizable monetary grants to universities and private corporations for research projects. Misuse of these funds, or fraudulent inducement of awards, can form the basis for False Claims Act violations.

Common violations include lying on the grant application, using the funds for improper purposes, falsifying results (particularly when those results are then used to obtain additional funding), and using the funds or employees for research projects not included in the grant.

The biggest federal grant fraud False Claims Act settlement to date was in March 2019. The government announced a $112.5 million settlement against Duke University to resolve allegations that it submitted falsified research results to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to procure tens of millions of federal dollars. The whistleblower was a former research analyst who alleged that high-level university employees knew that a research coordinator was including false data in grant applications but failed to stop the conduct.

Case Results