University of Puerto Rico pays nearly $1.8 million to settle U.S. grant funds case
SAN JUAN – The the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) paid the U.S. Government last week $1,772,790 as part of a settlement agreement reached in connection to claims of misuse of grant funds provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The joint investigation revealed that the UPR did not comply with the time and effort reporting requirements of salaries and wages “to ensure that payroll for the various grants was correctly and appropriately charged for the 2011 calendar year,” according to a Justice Department release Thursday.
The UPR provided certifications asserting compliance with grant rules, “when in fact, their records failed to reconcile the budget amounts reported to NASA, DOE, and NSF,” Justice said.
Under the False Claims Act, the United States can recover up to three times the amount of loss and civil monetary penalties ranging from $5,500 to $11,000 per claim, in addition to debarment from future participation in federal funding.
“It is imperative that federal award recipients use grant money appropriately, and that they track and support their award expenditures using effective accounting systems and accurate time and effort reports,” NSF Inspector General Allison Lerner says in the release.
“The United States Attorney’s Office will continue to investigate grant fraud matters on both Criminal and Civil grounds and will aggressively pursue actions against those who submit false claims to the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.
The matter was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David O. Martorani-Dale, Affirmative Civil Enforcement Coordinator, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Hector E. Ramírez-Carbó, Chief of Civil Division.