Boulder Weather Research Organization and Agents Pay Over $ 2 Million to Solve Investigation into the Abuse of Federal Scientific Research Grants | USAO-CO


DENVER – The Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR), a nonprofit in Boulder, Colorado, paid more than $ 2.4 million to resolve allegations it engaged in grant fraud it received from three federal agencies: the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency of the US Department of Commerce.

The CSWR has conducted scientific meteorological research known as “storm chasing” with its fleet of “Dopplers on Wheels”. The United States alleges that from 2004 to 2020, CSWR incorrectly claimed federal grant payments for expenses that CSWR did not incur. The United States also contends that CSWR had inadequate internal controls for the federal funds it received, including inadequate documentation and controls over large cash transactions.

The settlement announced today also resolves allegations that CSWR executives Joshua Wurman and Ling Chan improperly obtained payments to which they were not entitled. These allegations, which primarily relate to the rent payments for CSWR’s offices in their personal residence, are resolved with the reimbursement of $ 203,776 from Dr. Wurman and Ms. Chan in the United States.

“Our office works to protect taxpayers by arresting people who falsely get federal grants,” Acting US Attorney Matt Kirsch said. “We will prosecute both organizations and individuals if they improperly obtain federal funds or fail to keep track of those funds with adequate safeguards and controls.”

NSF Inspector General Allison Lerner said: “Each year the National Science Foundation awards millions of dollars in grants to promote promising scientific research. However, the Foundation expects grant recipients to follow federal cost principles. Expenses charged to grants must be eligible, attributable and reasonable. I commend the United States Attorney’s Office and our investigative partners for their work in upholding federal grant rules in this case. “

“This survey is a stunning example of how we are working in partnership with other law enforcement agencies who are committed to protecting federal grants and ensuring funds are spent appropriately,” said Bob Steinau, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, Office of the Inspector General of NASA (OIG). “I would like to salute the exemplary efforts of Commerce OIG, NSF OIG and the United States Attorney’s Office. NASA’s OIG and its law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively investigate the people and entities who enjoy the trust of U.S. taxpayers. “

“We are committed to ensuring that grants awarded by NOAA for important research are managed appropriately and used for their intended purposes,” said Scott Kieffer, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, US Department of Commerce, Office of the United States. Inspector General (OIG). “Our office appreciates the investigative partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, NASA OIG and NSF OIG that led to this result, and we will continue to focus our resources on investigations that serve to protect the taxpayer money. ”

This case was handled by the Assistant United States Attorney, Andrea Wang.

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