^tDST^ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency	13 P 0361
 \ Office of Inspector General	August 27,2013
^ At a Glance
Why We Did This Review
EPA Needs to Improve STAR Grant Oversight
The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, Office of
Inspector General, conducted
this audit to answer the
1.	Is EPA effectively monitoring
Science to Achieve Results
grant recipient activities?
2.	Does EPA verify that STAR
grant recipients take action
to ensure that research
misconduct is not associated
with grant activities?
The STAR competitive grant
program is the primary vehicle
through which the EPA funds
research at universities and
nonprofit groups. From fiscal
years 2010 through 2012, the
EPA funded 220 projects
totaling $150,043,796 through
the STAR grant program.
This report addresses the
following EPA Goal or
Cross-Cutting Strategy:
 Advancing science, research
and technological innovation.
For further information, contact
our Office of Congressional and
Public Affairs at (202) 566-2391.
The full report is at:
What We Found
We found that the EPA's project officers did not monitor STAR grant recipients in
a manner consistent with the agency's policy and guidance. For example, project
officers did not take action when recipients submitted annual reports late, did not
follow baseline monitoring guidance, and did not routinely follow up when
disclaimers about EPA's endorsement were not included in published articles.
By not following policy, project officers increased the risk that issues would not
be corrected in a timely manner and that projects might not meet specified goals.
During administrative advanced-monitoring reviews, the EPA did not ensure costs
were allocable to the grant and did not request certified effort reports. We
reviewed drawdowns totaling $639,045 and found $53,854 in costs that were not
allowable. We also found that one grant recipient's certified effort reports did not
comply with the recipient's own internal policies.
Project officers did not actively monitor STAR grant recipients for potential
research misconduct, or review recipients for compliance with research
misconduct terms and conditions. When the EPA does not monitor research
misconduct, the agency puts grant funds at risk.
Recommendations and Planned Agency Corrective Actions
We recommend that the EPA provide mandatory training to STAR grant project
officers. The training should include baseline monitoring performance and
instructions to ensure baseline monitoring reports are accurately completed.
For incrementally funded grants, the EPA should enforce the terms and conditions
that allow withholding of funds for late or missing reports, and amend these
requirements for all awards so that payment will be withheld when progress
reports are missing or late. We recommend that the EPA require grant recipients
to submit corrections to publications when acknowledgement of EPA funding and
disclaimers of EPA endorsement are missing from articles.
To address unallowable costs, we recommend that the EPA follow up on the
unallowable costs that we identified and issue guidance to grant specialists for
improving administrative advanced-monitoring reviews. We also recommend that
the EPA require project officers to verify grant recipients' awareness of research
misconduct reporting requirements. The EPA's completed and planned corrective
actions address all of the OIG's recommendations.
Noteworthy Achievements
The EPA immediately corrected a website containing outdated terms and
conditions after we informed the agency about the problem. Grant recipients are
now directed to the correct website for grant terms and conditions.