Federal agencies are saying they can’t “speculate” on how many government funded researchers are faking their research, and that defrauding taxpayers is increasing. They are not sure exactly how much of their”$7 billion investment is lost to such misconduct, waste or theft, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.”
NSF’s Inspector General (IG), the agency’s watchdog, closed at least 74 different cases last two years that included charges of manipulating data, plagiarizing, time theft, misuse of funds, and a variety of other fraud related charges.
They can’t release exact numbers because so much of the information has to be gotten through FOIA requests, and slips through the cracks, but they report that those cases are increasing. While they don’t have the exact numbers, investigators say that there is frequent misconduct that goes undetected.
The Daily Caller has more:
The cases include researchers who falsified data, plagiarized other work, spent NSF money on personal expenses, invented fictitious employees, used taxpayer dollars for online gambling, and much, much more. Some researchers saw jail time for their misdeeds, while others made genuine mistakes – which still threatened or wasted taxpayer dollars.
And, like NSF, the IG also doesn’t actually know how much waste there may be in any given year, though investigators believe there is a lot of it. (RELATED: Feds Give Billions To Research Based On ‘Falsified Or Fabricated Data’)
The IG generally doesn’t “speculate about how much misconduct is undetected,” IG spokeswoman Susan Carnohan told TheDCNF. Consequently, there’s no estimate detailing how much of the NSF’s $7 billion goes into researchers’ pockets or funds plagiarism and data manipulation. The problem is growing drastically and is harming the scientific community and the public’s trust.
The IG has seen “a substantial increase” in misconduct and fraud cases, the watchdog reported in September, 2016. Investigators caught twice as many students falsifying their results during the 2011 to 2016 period as compared to the six years prior.
“The significant number of substantiated allegations of research misconduct investigated by [the IG] continues unabated,” the watchdog wrote. The IG report cited a survey that found 30 percent of researchers admitted “to engaging in questionable research practices or knowing someone” who does.
“Encouraging the ethical conduct of research” is one of NSF’s top challenges, the report said.
“As more stories about research misconduct circulate in the media, the public’s confidence in the research community as a whole is weakened and taxpayer support of science is undermined.”
Carnohan added: “Research misconduct damages the scientific enterprise, is a potential misuse of public funds and undermines the trust of citizens in government-funded research.”
Despite acts of misconduct, researchers can typically start collecting NSF checks just a few years after getting caught defrauding taxpayers. Each scientist in the cases TheDCNF reviewed were allowed to continue receiving NSF funds after getting caught and after a suspension.