Last year, the University of Louisville received $77 million in federal grants -- just a small chunk of taxpayer awards that flow to universities each year for research in fields ranging from medicine to education.
At most universities, including U of L, a mix of federal regulations, financial accounting and administrative monitoring provides oversight for those grants and is typically sufficient to deter misuse, experts and grant administrators say.
But a federal criminal investigation into the potential misappropriation of a $694,000 federal education grant has raised questions about whether gaps exist at U of L -- at a time when grant funding at the university has risen sharply...
Oversight is spread among many university offices and departments, with lead researchers largely responsible for monitoring their own grants. Some monitoring isn't done until after the money is already spent. And officials acknowledge that the rigor of oversight within schools and colleges varies.
For instance, the university failed to notice that Robert Felner, the former education dean who is the focus of the federal grant investigation, had never filed financial disclosure forms that could have revealed his relationships with subcontractors he hired with grant money.
And because Felner was the dean and lead researcher, his grant spending wasn't subject to oversight from anyone else within his college...
The Felner case
University officials won't say exactly how the Felner case came to light, except that it was reported to the provost and campus police, and that the university alerted federal authorities.
The grant came through an earmark secured by former U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, R-3rd District, in the 2005 federal budget.
Felner was to use the grant, from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement, to create a center to help schools meet goals under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Documents show that most of that money went to two research subcontractors -- centers that Felner was connected to in Illinois and Rhode Island.
But some of that money wound up in a Louisville bank, and it remains unclear what work was done...
Monday, September 22, 2008
This from C-J:
Officials admit rigor of the system varies