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Department of Defense report finds no basis for research misconduct charges at MIT Lincoln Laboratory

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The Department of Defense today released a comprehensive report (PDF) following a year-long investigation that concludes that allegations of research misconduct involving two members of the MIT Lincoln Laboratory research staff were unsubstantiated and that the case should be closed.

The Defense Department investigation, conducted by Brendan Godfrey, director of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, examined six questions identified in a 2002 MIT inquiry. The inquiry followed charges of research misconduct in a review of a software program associated with missile defense by a team that included the Lincoln Laboratory researchers. The present investigation was undertaken at MIT's insistence after a long delay during which access to relevant classified documents had been denied.

In a letter transmitting the Defense Department report to MIT, Kenneth J. Kreig, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said, "I have adjudicated the results of the investigation and determined that each of the six allegations is unsubstantiated."

Provost L. Rafael Reif, in a letter today to the MIT faculty and MIT Lincoln Laboratory staff, said, "On the basis of these findings and as recommended by the vice president of research, I have determined under MIT's policy on academic misconduct that neither of the Lincoln Laboratory scientists engaged in academic misconduct." He said that the final disposition of the allegations "ends a long and difficult process" that has taken a toll on the two Lincoln Laboratory researchers, their families and colleagues. "I greatly appreciate their patience," Reif said. "The investigation report establishes that they engaged in none of the alleged misconduct."

MIT sought to conduct its own investigation of the questions raised by the 2002 inquiry, but was unable to do so because it could not gain access to classified information essential to the review. At MIT's urging, the Defense Department launched an investigation in March 2006. In order to help assure an impartial and thorough investigation, the Defense Department agreed to MIT's request to have Norman R. Augustine, former chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp. and a former member of the MIT Corporation, serve as a consultant and adviser to Godfrey.

In a forward to the report, Augustine said that Godfrey "carried out his responsibilities very competently, with extraordinary diligence and a sincere effort to ferret out the truth. . . . In my judgment, the accompanying report accurately portrays the circumstances which were investigated and the resolution of the issues identified."

Last May, MIT released the report of an ad hoc committee charged with examining the factors that had delayed resolution of the case. While the committee found that the Institute's research policies were fundamentally sound, it identified several improvements in policy or practice that might help resolve future cases of unusual complexity.

"I will consider carefully these recommendations, working closely with our faculty and administration leaders on steps going forward," Reif said in his letter to faculty today. "Our goal will remain, as always, to ensure that MIT research reflects and embodies the highest ethical and professional standards and that all members of our community are treated fairly."

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