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Tags: inspector general | hhs | nih | foreign grants | audit

Report: NIH Didn't Track Foreign Grant Expenditures

By    |   Wednesday, 20 December 2023 04:27 PM EST

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) had a systematic breakdown in tracking how foreign grant recipients spent their money, according to a federal report released this month.

Foreign grant recipients that spend $750,000 or more in HHS funds in one fiscal year are required to complete and submit audit reports. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found in its report the NIH did not receive 81 of the 109 annual audit reports from fiscal years 2019 and 2020 for foreign grant recipients that met the requirements for an audit and for which NIH provided most of the HHS funding.

"As a result, NIH did not have information needed from the 81 annual audit reports to effectively monitor these foreign grant recipients for potential findings or recommendations noted in the audit reports," the OIG's report said. "Of the 28 audit reports received by NIH, 18 did not contain any information that indicated a need for further NIH monitoring or corrective action on the part of the foreign grant recipient, and 10 contained findings that required follow-up actions by NIH and the foreign grant recipient.

"However, for 7 of the 10 audit reports that required follow-up actions, NIH did not follow up with a management decision letter or did not timely issue the letter."

Alarms over NIH funding protocols were raised over a series of grants totaling $8 million to New York-based nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance from 2014 to 2021. A substantial portion of that grant money was passed to China's Wuhan Institute of Virology, which some federal agencies believe was at the center of a lab leak that led to the COVID-19 pandemic. An NIH audit in January found EcoHealth had misreported $89,171 in expenses.

The Trump administration in July 2020 suspended the NIH grant to EcoHealth, but the Biden administration earlier this year lifted the suspension and the HHS offered more than $600,000 in federal grant money to EcoHealth. In July, the HHS suspended the Wuhan Institute of Virology's access to federal funding.

In comments attached to the OIG's report, the NIH said in November it has "increased the number of auditors assigned to determine whether the delinquent audit reports have been completed and coordinate the proper actions. The expected completion date is September 2024."

This was not the first warning given about the federal government being unaware of how researchers use taxpayer funds. The inspector general found in 2022 that most grant recipients it surveyed did not comply with federal requirements for disclosures of foreign financial support, the Washington Times reported, exposing risks that the researchers' work was vulnerable to theft by China and other U.S. adversaries.

Michael Katz

Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) had a systematic breakdown in tracking how foreign grant recipients spent their money, according to a federal report released this month.
inspector general, hhs, nih, foreign grants, audit
447
2023-27-20
Wednesday, 20 December 2023 04:27 PM
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