One study at Harvard, for instance, involved altering the genes of lab mice. The study, which one observer dubbed "mouse fight club," sought to determine whether suppressing serotonin perception would increase aggressive behavior (it does, it turns out). But the university failed to disclose in their media release that nearly $900,000 of federal tax dollars were spent on the project, according to White Coat Waste and their coalition.
"There's a whole lot of wasteful experimentation on animals that the public is concerned about," Justin Goodman, White Coat's vice president, told the Washington Times. "If they knew exactly how much money is being spent on some of these projects, like forcing dogs to run on treadmills until they have heart attacks, they would give a second thought about whether this is the way they want their money spent."
And Harvard is not the only research institution that troubles the activists. The group examined a number of projects funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and Defense and Veterans Affairs, with the latter providing nearly $250 million to the Ivy League in 2016. They found 51 research projects at Harvard; 14 at Yale; 11 at the University of Pennsylvania; six at Brown, Cornell and Columbia; and three and Dartmouth and Princeton that did not disclose taxpayer funding, the Washington Times reported.
Failing to disclose funding sources is a direct violation of US legislation known as the "transparency rule," introduced in 1989, White Coat says. Any entity that gets federal grant money and issues any document describing the project has to detail what portion of their spending came from taxpayer funds.
"It's a mix of ignorance and arrogance," Goodman said, adding that while some schools might not be aware of the requirement, others display a "level of arrogance," that they're not "accountable to anybody."
Five senators — Jeff Flake, Ron Johnson, James Lankford, John McCain and Rand Paul — have asked the federal comptroller general to investigate the violations.
"We believe it is unacceptable for agencies and grant recipients to disregard longstanding transparency requirements, and those agencies have an obligation to spend taxpayer dollars effectively and efficiently," they said in a letter to the Government Accountability Office.