On February 13, 2019, Haifang Wen, a tenured professor at the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, Washington State University, agreed to exclude himself, and any companies he owns or manages, from applying for Federal funds from the Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer Programs. This voluntary exclusion agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF), followed a referral for a NSF debarment, and will end on July 27, 2021.
According to the investigation, from 2006 to September 2015, Wen and two associates used their business entities to engage in a scheme to defraud DOT, NSF, and the Departments of Energy (Energy) and Agriculture (USDA). They obtained approximately $9 million in research contract and grant funds by fabricating letters of support and investment from sham companies and nonexistent individuals; listing false information about business operations, employees, and facilities in research proposals and reports; and providing reports and emails that falsely described the expenditure of the Federal research funds. According to the investigation, Wen and his associates submitted fraudulent information on a Federal Highway Administration, National Cooperative Highway Research Program contract valued at almost $1 million.
DOT-OIG is working on this investigation with NSF-OIG, Energy-OIG, USDA-OIG, Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Enforcement Division, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).