Grant Shell Games

Jessie is a researcher paid 100% on a grant fund in a small laboratory that is struggling to stay funded. Meredith, the principal investigator of the lab, asks Jessie to stop working on the project in order to work on a proposal which will help keep the lab afloat financially. Hayden, the departmental manager, notices that Jesse has been assisting with developing the proposal materials and inquires about the situation. Jessie confides that he is concerned that the workload associated with generating the proposal for the new project is preventing him from completing the work on the grant from which he is actually being paid.

Which of the following statements related to this scenario are true?

A. As long as Jessie is getting the work done on the project he is paid from, it is OK to work on the new grant proposal.
B. If Jessie’s time is charged 100% to the current grant and he is also working on a grant proposal, he and his supervisor Meredith are causing the grant to be falsely reported to the federal government.
C.Internal controls may need to be strengthened to timely prevent or detect inaccurate charges.
D.The situation involves an allegation of wrongdoing so Hayden should contact the Locally Designated Official (LDO).


The best answers are B, C, and D.


The following Standards of Ethical Conduct apply:

9.     Internal Controls

11.  Financial Reporting

12.  Reporting Violations and Protection from Retaliation

With the acceptance of research grants by the University comes a responsibility to use the research funds for the purpose for which they were intended. Research grants are critical to the University’s mission and should not be misused or abused. Each employee in this scenario must exercise responsibility and accountability to assure that grants are charged only for time actually worked and within the approved program for that grant.

In this scenario, Hayden has detected possible improper salary charges to a grant fund. She should discuss the situation with Meredith, the principal investigator, and make sure the salary charges are corrected while the proposal work is underway. She should also ask that, going forward, Meredith tell her in advance when she is redirecting her staff’s work assignments so that she may allocate salary charges appropriately. If improper salary charges were found and Meredith is not willing to correct the error, Hayden has the responsibility to consult with her location’s Locally Designated Official (LDO), the person who administers the Whistleblower Policy. Such reports are treated confidentially by the University, and those who make them are protected from retaliation.