Friday, November 18, 2016

University think tank gets millions in government funding, but 'still not clear' what it does

University think tank gets millions in government funding, but 'still not clear' what it does - The College Fix:
"Previously thought to exist only in deep space, a black hole has been discovered in Tampa, Fla.
It’s called the University of South Florida Global Initiative for Civil Society and Conflict, and its mission appears to be sucking in money with no accountability.
The university think tank is scrutinized in a Fox 13 investigation, which found that the Global Initiative has received more than $4 million in state and federal funds – yet is so poorly run that its employees aren’t sure who the director is.
That would be David Jacobson, who also founded the Global Initiative.
After an internal review last summer that surfaced basic problems of financial accountability and even office hours – Jacobson didn’t regularly show up – College of Arts and Sciences Dean Eric Eisenberg renewed Jacobson’s contract for another three years. 
Fox 13 says his current package exceeds $220,000.
The school refuses to release spending details from two federal research grants, saying that’s prohibited by law, the station reports.
Student newspaper The Oracle says the Global Initiative has received about $2.43 million from the Air Force and two Department of Defense-funded entities, and $250,000-300,000 a year from Florida.
Fox 13 says USF could face “fines or criminal charges for mishandling public research dollars” – hence the problem of the missing expenses:
Among the other findings of last year’s internal review: the Global Initiative didn’t have a clear mission or measurable objectives; there were no position descriptions.
It’s still not clear what the think tank does now.
The clearest sign of the think tank’s woes is its inexplicable marketing:
A closer look at another photo of a staffer with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shows a sign dated 2004 — before there was a USF Global Initiative and well before Ban Ki-moon was a U.N. official.
As for the photo of the student interns [in a marketing brochure], the exact same photo is found on a USF College of Arts and Sciences academic advising website. It shows a group of paid faculty members.
Its advertised partnerships with eight institutions around the world also appear to be invented, with only two responding to Fox 13:
Dietlind Stolle with the Center for the Study of Democratic Citizenship at Canada’s McGill University, said the partnership had been an idea that never materialized.
Nicola Phillips with the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom said there was no institutional partnership.
“Indeed, this is the first time I have heard of it,” she said.
The school told the Oracle that “a number of the allegations” were already found to be “unsubstantiated” in a prior audit, while the think tank’s “productivity and long-term viability” were already under review within the school."

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