Clark Atlanta U. to Pay $5M For Misuse of Federal Funds

ATLANTA – Clark Atlanta University has agreed to pay $5 million to settle a federal whistleblower suit alleging that it violated the terms of a cooperative agreement it had with the U.S. Department of Energy between 1990 and 2002, according to an announcement made by David Nahmias, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

The school has also agreed to enter into a compliance agreement designed to ensure that future federal funds will be managed appropriately.

Nahmias stated, “We commend the current administration of Clark Atlanta for its cooperation in our investigation and for taking responsibility for errors made by its predecessors by entering intoa settlement designed to correct those problems and make certain they do not happen again. Clark Atlanta’s willingness to enter into a compliance agreement demonstrates their commitment to fullcompliance with federal laws and regulations going forward.”

The lawsuit alleged that Clark Atlanta, acting as manager of a consortium that included itself and 16 other universities, received and retained approximately $24 million under a cooperative agreement that Clark Atlanta had with the Department of Energy.

The consortium was created in 1990 to meet the Department of Energy’s anticipated needs for a workforce of scientists and engineers trained in environmental technology, environmental restoration,environmental health and waste management. The complaint alleged that under the terms of the agreement, Clark Atlanta was to use the funds for very specific purposes designed to further the goal of training a minority workforce in environmental sciences but that Clark Atlanta did not in fact use the funds for those purposes.

The United States has agreed to dismiss the lawsuit in exchange for $5 million and Clark Atlanta’s implementation of a compliance agreement. The agreement requires the university to implement certain policies and procedures to ensure compliance with applicablestatutes and regulations that govern the use of federal funds.

The whistleblower, or qui tam, suit was filed by Dr. August Curley, who was hired by Clark Atlanta as program manager for the consortium in 1995. Under the federal qui tam statute,Curley’s contributions to the case will be recognized with 22 percent of the $5 million. The remaining $3.9 million, plus interest, will be paid to the United States in installments over five years, ensuring a significant recovery of the misused federal funds while avoiding unwarranted damage to Clark Atlanta’s ongoing mission of educating its students.

For further information, contact Nahmias at (404) 581-6016.

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