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What We Do

We investigate allegations of wrongdoing involving organizations or individuals that receive awards from, conduct business with, or work for NSF. When possible, we work in partnership with agencies and awardees to resolve issues. We conduct our investigations according to the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency's Quality Standards for Investigations.

Program Integrity Investigations

Our criminal and civil investigators are statutory law enforcement officers. We investigate allegations concerning misuse of NSF funds and false statements in documents submitted to NSF. When we identify a violation of a criminal or civil statute, we refer our investigations to the U.S. Department of Justice for criminal prosecution or civil action. When appropriate, we also refer matters to NSF for administrative action, such as award termination and governmentwide suspension or debarment.

According to Executive Order 14074 “Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety,” federal law enforcement agencies must publicly post body worn camera policies. Our  body worn camera policy can be found here: Body Worn Camera Policy

Research Integrity and Administrative Investigations

Our administrative investigators are Ph.D. scientists. We investigate allegations of research misconduct (falsification, fabrication, and plagiarism) relating to NSF proposals and awards; certain types of employee misconduct; and violations of NSF regulations, policy or directives. When appropriate, we refer the results of our investigations to NSF's Office of the Director for administrative resolution. 

Legal Division

Our investigative attorneys provide legal advice and support to administrative, civil, and criminal investigations. We work with lead investigators to ensure that all elements, criteria, or factors relating to allegations or other issues are identified, addressed, and supported by evidence. We also investigate allegations of whistleblower reprisal and serve as lead investigators in certain cases.

Communications & Outreach

We conduct outreach presentations at educational institutions, scientific conferences, and other professional meetings to help prevent fraud and promote the responsible conduct of research. 

Publicly Available Investigative Summaries

Our Semiannual Reports to Congress include summaries of investigations and actions taken as a result of our investigations during the semiannual period. We also prepare Case Closeout Memoranda once our investigations close, which summarize the matter we investigated and the final outcome of the case. Our Semiannual Reports to Congress and Case Closeout Memoranda do not contain information that would identify subjects or witnesses. 

The Department of Justice issues press releases for significant criminal and civil actions related to our investigations.

When to Contact Us

NSF awardees are required to notify NSF of any significant problems relating to their NSF awards, including when they determine that a research misconduct allegation has substance and they proceed to investigation. We encourage awardees to proactively contact us to discuss issues related to the misuse of NSF funds or to facilitate their research misconduct investigations. These communications significantly increase our ability to work with awardees and to conduct timely investigations.