The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

NYU and Partner Took $300K in Sandy Relief Money They Didn't Need, Feds Say

By Noah Hurowitz | March 23, 2017 3:06pm
 NYU Langone Medical Center was evacuated during the height of the storm when the hospital lost power and its back-up generator failed.
NYU Langone Medical Center was evacuated during the height of the storm when the hospital lost power and its back-up generator failed.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Jessica Campbell

KIPS BAY — An Ohio medical school with ties to NYU was slapped on the wrist after it took more than double the amount it needed in federal disaster relief money and handed it over to NYU without monitoring their use, officials said.

Lerner College of Medicine, the medical school of the Cleveland Clinic, received $587,594 from the National Institutes of Health to repair labs damaged by Hurricane Sandy and sub-awarded some of the cash to NYU to repair their shared labs, according to an audit by the Department of Health and Human Services released this month.

The agency did not issue a finding of criminal behavior, but recommended that the school return the unnecessary grants, totaling $299,170.

Lerner was collaborating with NYU on a research project on lipoproteins and heart disease when Sandy hit, damaging their labs on the east-side of Manhattan.

DHHS investigators found Lerner failed to appropriately monitor NYU’s use of the funds — which officials at Lerner College told investigators was due to a longstanding relationship of trust between the two institutions, according to the report.

Brian Farmer, senior director of academic affairs at Lerner College, said a staffer was in weekly contact with NYU about the use of the funds, but the school did not feel the need to conduct further auditing of NYU.

Lerner College officials blamed the misstep on a lack of training, according to the DHHS report.

The DHHS encouraged Lerner College to train its staff to avoid a similar incident in the future and that the college better monitor procedures for sub-awarding relief funds.

Representatives from NYU and the NIH did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

But representatives of Lerner college said none of the money was used for “unallowed activities,” and the school managed to work out a deal with the NIH to avoid paying back the funds.

Cleveland Clinic's spokeswoman Janice Guhl denied that the school would have to return the cash, saying the medical school was able to prove that all of the funds it received, including the money in the DHHS report, was used for “allowable activities."

“We ensure that all expenditures recorded support the aims of the project are reasonable, allowable and properly allocated to the project. In this specific situation, Cleveland Clinic self-discovered a clerical error in that funds were not drawn from the correct account,” Guhl wrote in an email.

“Upon this discovery we provided documentation to the NIH and the clerical error was corrected. Upon this resolution, the NIH did not require any funds to be returned and all were allowable.”