To: Members of the Yale Community
From: Dorothy K. Robinson
Summary: Federal Investigation into Grant and Contract Accounting
June 30, 2006
Earlier today President Levin sent to you a memo to inform you of investigations being conducted by various federal agencies regarding Yale’s management of research grants. Several federal agencies have served subpoenas calling for the production of a broad range of documents relating to the University’s charging practices and grant- and contract-related recordkeeping. The subpoenas cover many years, many grants and contracts, and many Yale departments. At this point, no segment of Yale is exempt from scrutiny. We are working with expert outside counsel to respond to the subpoenas and to provide advice on all aspects of the investigations.
It is essential that all grant- or contract- related documents be preserved. Destroying relevant hard copy or electronic records may subject you to criminal prosecution as well as the full range of employment sanctions. Even inadvertent destruction or loss of relevant documents and electronic records can have very serious consequences.
This memorandum summarizes your obligations to preserve documents.
Scope: As of now, the investigations cover all aspects of federally sponsored research agreements where the sponsor is the Department of Defense, the Department of Health & Human Services, the National Science Foundation, or any component of any of those agencies. In case of doubt, you should assume that a funding arrangement is covered.
We do not yet know how far back the investigations will go. One of the subpoenas calls for documents going back to 1997. Do not assume that older documents and records are not covered. All routine destruction of documents and records related to federally sponsored research should be stopped immediately. If you have routine document or record destruction practices, and do not know if the documents or records pertain to federally sponsored research, please err on the side of caution, and stop the destruction until further notice. There should be no further deletion of electronic documents, including e-mails, relevant to federal research grants and contracts even if such deletions would have been routine.
What counts as a document or record? Documents and records that must be preserved include anything with words or numbers or data pertaining to federally sponsored research. That includes all letters, emails, research notebooks, voicemails, memoranda, notes, instructions, reports, analyses, telegrams, facsimiles, diaries, calendars, studies, logs, journals, books, plans, records, forms, charts, graphs, audio, visual and digital recordings, photographs (positive prints and negatives), slides, worksheets, checks, credit card charge slips, expense records, computation sheets, computer printouts and programs, tapes, videotapes, diskettes, CD-ROMS, DVDs, microfilm, microfiche, and handwritten comments on any of the above. It includes all copies of documents which are not identical, due to highlighting, handwritten notes, corrections, revisions, or other differences, no matter how minor. All versions of each document must be preserved.
Your document preservation responsibility is ongoing and exists until you are notified otherwise in writing by me. You are not being asked to copy or produce any documents now; you may be contacted by a Yale lawyer with specific instructions if that becomes necessary.
Federal agents recently conducted interviews of a number of Yale employees concerning cost reporting and other accounting issues relating to various grants. Agents may seek to conduct additional interviews. If you are contacted, it is your choice whether to speak with the agents. You should know that you can insist that any questioning happen during work hours, at Yale, and with a lawyer present. If you have any questions, please call the Office of the General Counsel for assistance.
You do not have to and should not respond to questions from the media. You should refer any press inquiries to Helaine Klasky or Tom Conroy at the Office of Public Affairs, 432-1345.
If you have any questions about any of these matters, do not hesitate to contact me, Susan Carney, Deputy General Counsel, or Harold Rose, Associate General Counsel, at 432-4949.
Thank you for your careful attention to this very important duty.