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STANFORD -- Stanford University has asked the Office of Naval Research to remove Paul Biddle as that office's resident representative after being informed that he has filed a personal lawsuit seeking to receive damages from the university.
The request was contained in a Wednesday, Sept. 18, letter from John Schwartz, vice president and general counsel, to Admiral William Miller, chief of naval research.
"We learned today from a DCAA [Defense Contract Audit Agency] official that Mr. Biddle has filed a personal lawsuit against the university," Schwartz wrote.
In the letter, Schwartz cited Federal Acquisition Regulation 1.602-2(b), which states that contracting officers shall "ensure that contractors receive impartial, fair, and equitable treatment."
"Government regulations explicitly state that contracting officers must ensure that contractors receive impartial treatment," Schwartz said later. "Quite aside from whether Mr. Biddle has provided that in the past, he clearly cannot do so now.
"It clearly is unallowable for a contracting officer to be seeking monetary gain for himself or for those selected by him from the organization he is charged with impartially overseeing. And a further conflict of interest is created by the possibility that Mr. Biddle could use his office to obtain information, not to further government business, but for his own lawsuit."
Schwartz said the DCAA official had told the university that Biddle had filed a qui tam - literally "who as well" - suit. In such a suit, an individual may file for himself as well as the government, and personally receive as much as 30 percent of any monetary award.
"Since such suits are filed under seal, we have not seen it," Schwartz said. "However, given Mr. Biddle's unsubstantiated statements in the past, this suit likely contains huge, unsupported numbers."
Biddle, whose responsibility is to oversee the use of federal research funds at Stanford, has been a central figure in the now-national controversy over research billings. He has alleged that the university has overbilled the government as much as $200 million over the last 10 years in reimbursements for indirect costs. Indirect costs are expenses, such as those for buildings and administration, that are necessary to research but cannot be attributed to an individual project.
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