Department of Health and Human Services

In FY 1989 and FY 1990, following the creation of the Office of Scientific Integrity (OSI), the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) received a total of 155 allegations of misconduct in science, many of which had been under review from earlier years by various offices within the Public Health Service (PHS).5 In April 1991, OSI reported that since its formation it had closed about 110 cases, most of which did not result in findings of misconduct in science.

The Office of Scientific Integrity Review (OSIR), in the office of the assistant secretary for health, reviewed 21 reports of investigations of misconduct in science in the period from March 1989 to December 1990, some of which involved multiple charges.6 The cases reviewed by OSIR had been forwarded to that office by OSI and had completed both an inquiry and investigation stage. Findings of misconduct in science, engaged in by 16 individuals, were made in 15 of the reports of investigations reviewed by OSIR. The OSIR 's summary of findings is given in Table 4.2 .

The OSIR recommended debarment in six cases, the most extreme administrative sanction available short of referral to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. Actions to recover PHS grant funds were undertaken in two cases.

Consequences of Confirmed Misconduct

Confirmed findings of misconduct in science can result in governmental penalties, such as dismissal or debarment, whereby individuals or institutions can be prohibited from receiving government grants or contracts on a temporary or permanent basis (42 C.F.R. 50). An individual who presents false information to the government in any form, including a research proposal, employment application, research report, or publication, may be subject to prosecution under the False Claims Act (18 U.S.C. 1001). At least one case of criminal prosecution against a research scientist, for example, rested on evidence that the scientist had provided false research information in research proposals and progress reports to a sponsoring agency.7 Similar prosecutions have occurred in connection with some pharmaceutical firms or contract laboratories that provided false test data in connection with licensing or government testing requirements (O'Reilly, 1990).

Government regulations on misconduct in science provide a separate mechanism through which individuals and institutions can be

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