Settlement agreement

Dear Harvard Chan School Community,

I am writing to inform you that we entered into a voluntary settlement agreement with the United States Department of Justice and the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services regarding certain inaccuracies in the effort reporting of former Professor Donna Spiegelman, who left the School in June 2018.

In 2016, following an internal review, the University voluntarily self-disclosed its findings to the NIH and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and continued to fully cooperate with authorities during their review of Harvard’s disclosed findings.

While neither Harvard University nor Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health admitted any liability, the University’s investigation identified effort reporting discrepancies for Professor Spiegelman and members of her research group that resulted in charges to multiple NIH awards that could not be fully documented. As a result, the University proposed refunding $1,359,791 in salary costs to the government and the government agreed to the proposed repayment. It is important to note that while this internal review identified inaccuracies in the management of time and effort reporting, the completion of the research aims and the quality of the research findings were not disputed.

As result of the findings of the internal investigation into this matter, the Harvard Chan School, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, has enhanced its policies and procedures for time and effort reporting and allocation of costs to awards and implemented an expanded internal monitoring program. I am asking all faculty and research administrators to review current effort management procedures and ensure that you are following those procedures. If you have any questions, please contact Frank Urso, chief research administration officer, at



Michelle A. Williams, ScD
Dean of the Faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Angelopoulos Professor in Public Health and International Development,
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School