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Research Integrity and Administrative Investigations

Aaron Manka
Director, Research Integrity and Administrative Investigations

The Administrative Investigations Division is primarily responsible for investigating allegations that, if substantiated, would result in administrative action rather than civil or criminal prosecution. These include allegations of research misconduct under NSF proposals and awards; certain types of employee misconduct; violations of NSF regulations, policy or directives; and other issues that are not of a civil/criminal nature. The figure below shows the number and type of administrative allegations we received between May 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021.

Total Research Misconduct and Whistleblower Allegations Received


Administrative Investigations staff are also responsible for conducting outreach activities, and provide presentations at educational institutions and scientific conferences. Brochures and case studies are available on the OIG Publications page; you may also contact us directly if you are interested in scheduling a presentation for your conference or institution.


OIG's Semiannual Reports to Congress include synopses of selected investigations, reviews, and outreach activities conducted by the Office of Investigations.

NSF's Research Misconduct regulation (45 C.F.R. part 689) defines research misconduct as "fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing or performing research funded by NSF, reviewing research proposals submitted to NSF, or in reporting research results funded by NSF." The regulation also describes the procedures we follow in handling allegations of research misconduct. OIG's Dear Colleague Letter also explains our procedures.

NSF's Suspension and Debarment regulation (2 C.F.R parts 180 and 2520) applies when NSF suspends or debars an individual or organization. Debarred entities are entered into GSA's System for Award Management (SAM).

NSF's Grant Proposal Guide provides guidance on the format and content of grant proposals. Of special importance to our research misconduct cases is the following paragraph (emphasis added):

"NSF expects strict adherence to the rules of proper scholarship and attribution. The responsibility for proper attribution and citation rests with authors of a proposal; all parts of the proposal should be prepared with equal care for this concern. Authors other than the PI (or any co-PI) should be named and acknowledged. Serious failure to adhere to such standards can result in findings of research misconduct. NSF policies and rules on research misconduct are discussed in Grant Policy Manual (GPM) Section 930 as well as in 45 CFR Part 689."