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Approximate Timeline – Murry Salby

 

1992 – 2004 Outside work for government agencies performed at consulting firm, pursuant to university policy, with paperwork submitted and approved by the university, and with detailed budgetary information reported regularly to the funding agencies. The work was performed at the consulting firm with colleagues.
1997 Research funds committed to my group in the university disappeared, while I was overseas on sabbatical. They had been applied elsewhere. Requests for their return were made at several levels of the university, eventually through CU’s internal grievance procedure.
The requests were ignored.
2002 The missing research funds had to be included in our regular report to funding agencies. NSF opens a criminal investigation of the university.
The funds reappear.
2005 Proposal submitted to NSF for consulting work with satellite data that was produced at the consulting firm. The proposal was highly rated, but declined over a technicality .
Resubmitted proposal included a description of the original reviews and how the proposal had been handled.
Reviewers, who were burdened with having to evaluate the material again, after having instructed NSF to fund the work, are then critical of NSF officials, for diverting their time and resources to a superfluous exercise.
Shortly thereafter, we were notified that NSF was opening an investigation of us. The purported excuse was that the proposal, which focused on stratospheric chemical behavior in satellite data that was produced at the consulting firm, had similarity to another proposal, which focused on dynamical issues in the troposphere and did not rely on satellite data at the consulting firm.
2006-7 Investigation goes around in circles looking for something, but finding little of substance. We had complied with university policy on external work. And the university had approved that work.
(For reference, external consulting work is written into the university’s guidelines. One professor operated one of the largest firms in Boulder.) 2006-2007:I am on sabbatical overseas.
CU modifies its policies on external work, with which we had been compliant .
After returning to the US, CU presents me with its new forms for external work. I have none.
2008  I accept the chair at Macquarie. I request a copy of all of my computer files at CU, residing on numerous servers that I had developed over the preceding 3 decades. My request is ignored.
The request is repeated, and likewise ignored.
And again… To meet the commencement of the school year for my son, I relocate to Australia in February.
2009 With my requests ignored, I commence an action to recover my computer files, which supported my teaching and research over 3 decades.
NSF is awakened, perhaps at the instigation of the university, who had found itself under criminal investigation and had to restore $100,000 in research funds. After peering under every stone, the NSF investigation had come up with the objections (i) and (ii) described in my response. Bottom line: (1) We had been compliant with university policy.
(2) The university approved the work, as it did for many academics.
(3) If additional paperwork was required for NSF bureaucracy, the NSF administrators (before whom all budgetary items were faithfully reported) didn’t know it themselves and failed to notify us.
2010 NSF takes its action, which had no tangible consequence.
Under the circumstances, it would have been clear to NSF administrators that their report would not be worth challenging .

 

Abbreviations

NSF: National Science Foundation (US)

CU: Colorado University (US)

MQ: Macquarie University (Australia)

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