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Thursday, May 19, 2022

UF paid the U.S. government about $19.9 million Friday.

The money was paid to settle allegations that UF misused research grants given by the Department of Health and Human Services, said David Norton, the UF vice president for research. The U.S. Department of Justice investigated issues with UF’s bookkeeping system from 2005 to 2010.

The settlement allows UF to avoid a long and expensive litigation, he said.

UF did an internal audit in 2006 that exposed weaknesses in how UF documents the amount of time a faculty member spends researching.

When a faculty member receives a grant, part of his or her salary is paid by that grant based on how much time they spend on research, Norton said.

UF spokesperson Janine Sikes said the issue is similar to when an employee works but forgets to sign in.

UF couldn’t verify if faculty members worked the amount of time they said they did.

Norton said the university completely replaced their verification system.

The Department of Justice looked at about 1,900 grants given to UF, totaling about $1 billion, during their investigation, Norton said.

This settlement has no effect on the quality of research at UF, Norton said.

"It allows us to really move forward in doing great research for this state, the nation and the world," he said.

Contact Alexandra Fernandez at afernandez@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @alexmfern

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