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NSF OIG to Focus on Smaller Institutions, Plans to Increase ‘Foreign’ Investigations

Hoping to beef up its investigative staff with a primary goal of further mitigating the impact of inappropriate foreign contacts or undeclared support, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of Inspector General (OIG) is seeking a 14% spending boost for the upcoming fiscal year (FY).[1]

Meanwhile, on the heels of completing 10 audits reviewing how NSF awardees handled administrative flexibilities related to the COVID-19 pandemic, OIG is planning to conduct a similar series also concluding with a “capstone” report. But this time auditors will focus on small and medium-sized institutions.

Mark Bell, assistant inspector general for audit, recently reviewed OIG’s COVID-19-related work and previewed some of its FY 2022 plans with the National Science Board (NSB) Committee on Oversight. FY 2022 begins Oct. 1.[2]

Bell’s presentation was fairly brief, and at one point he was interrupted by committee chair Anneila Sargent, who admonished him to “hurry up a little bit because the time is marching on.”

Still, Bell was able to provide details that federally funded institutions and compliance officials can use to plan their own areas of increased focus and oversight and stay alert to new and continuing OIG priorities.

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