WGBH settles with Justice Department over alleged mishandling of federal grants

By Dru Sefton

This item has been updated and reposted with additional information.

WGBH has agreed to pay more than $300,000 in a civil settlement with the U.S Attorney’s Office to resolve allegations that it improperly tracked and accounted for federal grant money, The Associated Press is reporting.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz told AP that from 2005–08 the Boston pubcaster maintained an inadequate accounting system for tracking grant expenditures. The settlement, announced Thursday, is for damages incurred by the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.

WGBH spokesperson Jeanne Hopkins told Current that the settlement involves a payment equal to the error rate of half a percent to one percent of the total value of the grants, which was $60 million. It also provides WGBH with a mechanism going forward to clarify questions with federal funders to ensure full compliance with grant regulations, she said.

“WGBH did not misspend money or fail to account for grant funds,” she said. Starting in 2009, before the Justice Department’s review, WGBH “brought in new management and made a series of personnel, policy and procedural changes that have since created a thorough and comprehensive grant compliance system,” Hopkins said. “WGBH is fully compliant with federal requirements, and is committed to maintaining rigorous compliance procedures.”

WNET in New York City underwent a similar federal probe in 2009 over alleged mishandling of some $13 million in National Science Foundation grants.

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