California IN BRIEF : STANFORD : Conflict of Interest in Probe Charged

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Stanford University said it was seeking the removal of a government auditor from his investigation of the school's research grants after learning he had filed a lawsuit against the university. The auditor, Office of Naval Research employee Paul Biddle in Washington, has led an investigation into Stanford's billings for federally funded research projects. Biddle has claimed that the private university has overbilled the government as much as $200 million over the past decade. Stanford has repaid $1.35 million and reorganized its accounting system. Stanford said in a statement that it learned that Biddle has filed a personal lawsuit that could award him as much as 30% of any reimbursements that the school pays the government. Biddle's pursuance of an investigation while seeking monetary awards in a lawsuit amounts to a conflict of interest, Schwartz said.

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