A lot of taxpayer monies seem to be wasted as they are funneled to certain federally-funded research projects. With the increased minimum wage that will up the price of many or most goods and services in America, the working public – many of whom are the working poor – is becoming more and more concerned with where their tax dollars are going. The majority will not receive raises, because they are already making $6.00 or more per hour, but they will be able to purchase much less. They will be earning above minimum wage, but will be even less able to support themselves and their families. Tax money stolen by some irreuptable researches will fuel more bad feelings about this overall.

Related to dishonest researchers, controversy surrounds a failed AIDS research program at USC. A federal audit has asked USC to repay over $1 million to the government. The Dept. of Health and Human Services states that grant funds were either misappropriated or mismanaged during HIV/AIDS treatment-educator training that was terminated for cause in 2001. The program failed to meet the goal of training peer-treatment educators for minorities. Moreover, program money was misspent and not accounted for via standard financial accounting procedures, and USC did not remedy the co-principal investigator’s blatant conflict of interest. Finally, the program carried out research illegally on human subjects.

Phill Wilson, the co-principal investigator (PI), had no research experience, and the PI had no experience with HIV/AIDS work at all. In fact, the PI Lynn Sipe was only an associate librarian, not even participating in the program. USC blames The Dept. of Health Resources and Services Administration for awarding the grant to the investigators, even though their full credentials accompanied their application.

Wilson had a conflict of interest when he subcontracted $500,898 to African-American Aids Policy and Training Institute, where he was the founder, director, and president. HRSA asked HHS to perform an audit when HRSA shut down the program in July 2001. Wilson resigned as president of AAAPTI but became its chair and manager, still clearly in federal conflict of interest.

Wilson and his program were housed at the University Archives, where USA archivist Claude Zachary never met Wilson or saw anyone at all use the assigned office space in 23 months. Further, Wilson did not submit proper consent forms to ask peer-treatment educators any questions about their treatment, or sexual orientation and behaviors. They signed a consent form, but not the one approved and required by an appropriate research watchdog organization. Thus, the research was officially and legally unapproved, and 85% of the grant, or $1,082,554, was a totally disallowable expense. That’s a lot of tax money paid by the working public. The HIV/AIDS educator training was marginally a sham – illogical, with incomplete documentation, and unevaluated and out of compliance, among other problems. Wilson was not even a faculty member at USC.

USC’s own audit, done by PricewaterhouseCoopers, indicated that USC owes only $28,775 to the federal government funder HSRA, and made an appeal to that agency, which is reviewing the HHS audit. This case indicates that some federally funded research programs must be better monotored, and perhaps reduced or eliminated.
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