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Analysis

Harvard to Pay $1.3M to Settle Overbilling Allegations for NIH, HRSA Grants

By John Commins  
   April 28, 2020

The university self-disclosed the overcharges to NIH and HRSA by a professor at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Harvard University will pay more than $1.3 million to settle allegations that its T.H. Chan School of Public Health overcharged the federal government for healthcare research-related grants, the Department of Justice said.

The overcharges, which Harvard self-disclosed, were for grants funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Health Resources & Services Administration between 2009 and 2014 for Donna Spiegelman, at the time, a professor of Epidemiology at Chan, DOJ said.

Spiegelman, who has since taken a position with Yale School of Medicine, and her team allegedly overstated the time and effort they spent providing statistical analysis for other Chan researchers working under grants funded by the NIH.

Specifically, DOJ said, Spiegelman and her team distributed their time across all grants for which they provided statistical support, without accurately accounting for the time they actually spent on particular grants.

DOJ said Spiegelman also overstated her time and effort on a HRSA-funded President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief grant, on which she was a researcher.

This settlement also resolves allegations that Chan administrators either knew or should have known that Spiegelman's actions would result in overcharges to the federal government.

Chan didn't review Spiegelman's records to determine whether she and her team had overcharged grants, despite questions being raised for several years about these timekeeping practices.

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

Photo credit: Casimiro PT / Shutterstock


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The overcharges, which Harvard self-disclosed, were for grants funded by NIH and HRSA between 2009 and 2014 for a professor at T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

DOJ said T.H. Chan administrators either knew or should have known about the overbillings, which were self-disclosed.


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