GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – The University of Florida agreed Friday to pay almost $20 million to settle allegations that it improperly charged the federal government for salary and administrative costs on hundreds of federal grants.
The state’s flagship university admitted no liability in settling the false claims allegations, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The federal government alleged that the university had improperly charged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grants in question were used to fund medical research and were awarded to the University of Florida from 2005 to 2010.
The settlement represents about 2 percent of the funding the University of Florida received from the department during that period, school officials said in a statement.
The allegations dealt with bookkeeping problems that officials said have been remedied. A new software platform has improved the verification process for federally-funded programs, said David Norton, a university vice president for research.
Part of the problem stemmed from rapid expansion of the university’s research and the troubled roll-out of a new university-wide accounting system. The university will use investment earnings that would have gone to research to pay for the settlement, he said.
“UF cooperated fully with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice and has thoroughly revamped its bookkeeping procedures,” Norton said. “UF recognized that certain compliance systems had weaknesses and was in the process of addressing them when HHS began its audit years ago.”