DOE and Jones’ Delete Request

In considering Phil Jones’ request to delete emails, attention has focussed on this action relative to UK FOI. However, at the time, Phil Jones was funded by the US Department of Energy. Readers may be interested in considering the potential effect.

That Jones was funded by the US Department of Energy has been known for some time, but it’s not something that I’d specifically reflected on in connection with the deletion request.

What brought it to my attention was browsing through the Climategate emails leading up to Jones’ delete request. Only a few emails earlier, also in May 2008, an accountant for the US Department of Energy (the Chicago office of their Office of Science) asked Jones for cost allocations. The memo shows that Jones was being funded by the DOE during the period April-June 2008. In other words, Jones’ delete request was funded by the US Department of Energy.

Here’s the email:

876. 1210178552.txt
Subject: Request for Cost date for DOE Grant
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2008 13:44:38 -0500
From: “Richardson, Catherine”
To: p.jones@

Fiona Meardon
East Anglia University
Dear Grantee:

SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR COST INFORMATION

In accordance with the Presidents Management Agenda, there has been and continues to be a Government-wide movement to ensure that the American people receive better results for their money. Thus, all government entities are striving to improve the quality, accuracy, and timeliness of financial information regarding the results of operations and overall performance. As we seek to accomplish this goal, we are requesting cost data from our Grant recipients that have received significant financial assistance monies from the Department of Energy Office of Science – Chicago Office. The requested information, summarized below, will assist in our continuing efforts to ensure that we produce accurate and timely financial information. We need your assistance in the following areas:

A. Providing Cumulative Cost Data:

For most of the awards administered by the Office of Science – Chicago Office, there is a financial reporting requirement to submit cost data on the Financial Status Report (SF-269) at the end of the project period. Currently, there is no requirement for you to submit cost data on a more frequent basis. However, in order to achieve our goal of improving the quality, accuracy, and timeliness of our financial information, the Departments external independent auditors have insisted that we confirm cumulative cost balances with Grantees that have received significant financial assistance monies at least annually. For each grant award listed, we request that you provide the
following:

DOE Grant Award(s) No.
1. Cumulative actual Cost through March 31, 2008 (from inception of the award):
2. Your best estimate for costs to be incurred for April through June 30, 2008:
3. Your best estimate for costs to be incurred for July through September 30, 2008:

We are not requiring a specific or formal format for the requested information.
Instead, please e-mail your cost data as requested above for each identified grant award to Catherine Richardson at [5]catherine.richardson@ch.doe.gov. Please direct your comments and/or questions to Ms. Richardson at 630/252-6276.

B. Requesting Advances and Reimbursements:
Consistent with our efforts to improve the Departments financial information, we are reviewing significant unpaid balances on our financial assistance awards as well as any credit balances on the Quarterly Federal Cash Transactions Reports (SF-272) which would indicate a delay between the performance of the work and the requests for reimbursements submitted to us from your organization. The Departments external auditors and other users of financial information are concluding that these unpaid balances may not be used and possibly should be withdrawn. Therefore, we request that you:

Review your existing procedures for requesting advances and reimbursements from DOE; and Ensure that the delay between the performance of work and subsequent reimbursements is as minimal as administratively possible.

If this situation does not apply to your organization, no action is required on your part. We appreciate your support in this important initiative. If you have any questions, please call Cornell Williams at 630/252-2394 or e-mail him at [6]cornell.williams@ch.doe.gov.

Catherine Richardson
Staff Accountant
US Department of Energy
Office of Science – Chicago Office
(630)252-6276

876. 1210178552.txt
From: Phil Jones [[1]
Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2008 9:44 AM
To: Meardon Fiona Miss (RBS); Meldrum Alicia Dr (RBS); Cater Sandra Mrs (FIN)
Subject: Fwd: Request for Cost date for DOE Grant Alicia, Fiona, Sandra, Hope this doesn’t take too long to work out and send to Catherine.
If you need any help let me know.
Cheers
Phil

876. 1210178552.txt
At 12:08 07/05/2008, Cater Sandra Mrs \(FIN\) wrote:
Dear Phil,
I have reconciled the account to date and propose to send the following figures all in US$ Received to date 1,589,632.00

2007/08
Staff buyout Jones 71,708.00
Cons actual to date 9,650.00
Travel actual to date 6,940.00
Indirect costs on above 66,200.00
Total to 30/04/08 1,744,130.00

April to June 08
Staff Jones 19,290.00
Cons 10,550.00 includes some of the previous year underspend Travel 3,840.00 as above Indirect costs 25,200.00 Total 58,880.00

July to Sep 08
Staff Jones 19,290.00
Cons 3,200.00 includes some previous under spend Travel 4,500.00 as above Indirect costs 20,200.00 Total 47,190.00

These figures keep within the allocated budget. Please let me know if you agree this I will e-mail Catherine.

Regards
Sandra
Sandra M Cater
Office Supervisor
Finance Research
Registry Building
University of East Anglia

876. 1210178552.txt
From: Phil Jones

To: “Cater Sandra Mrs \(FIN\)” “Meardon Fiona Miss \(RBS\)”
“Meldrum Alicia Dr \(RBS\)”
Subject: RE: Request for Cost date for DOE Grant
Date: Wed May 7 12:42:32 2008
Sandra,
These will be fine. Keep a note of these in the file to check against when the later claims are made.
Cheers
Phil


22 Comments

  1. Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 10:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The study of Jones et al. [JGR, 2008] states in the Acknowledgements that the work was “supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (grant DEFG02-98ER62601)”.

    The U.S. House Committee on Science and the Committee on Government Reform have each contacted me about this. I sent them a copy of my letter to the U.K. Science Committee, which alleges that the study is a fraud.

    • Posted Mar 17, 2011 at 7:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for your service in getting this information to staff or members of the U.S. House Committee on Science and the Committee on Government Reform.

      That is great news!

  2. mpaul
    Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 10:48 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Jones, Mann and Wahl all had ample reasons to believe that the emails could become the subject of a US FOIA at the time that they were coordinating their deletion.

  3. bernie
    Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I wonder who the “consultant” was?
    “Staff buyout” is an interesting piece of terminology. Assuming that it was something like a portion of Phil Jones’ time and meant that DOE was essentially paying some portion of his salary – the $80K per year is an interesting amount and should clearly be compared to his likely CRU salary.

    • Jonathan
      Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 11:13 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: bernie (Mar 14 10:58), UEA salary scales can be found on the web (although the professorial scale is unclear in practice because of discretionary scale points). These will be headline salary figures, that is before tax and pension etc. The buyout figures would normally be stated in the same way, with “indirect costs” covering pension, employers NI, and usually an administration charge,

  4. JEM
    Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Hmmm. Very interesting. I wonder what kinds of documents Jones, UEA, et al signed to get their hands on the grant check. I wonder what those documents say about records retention and applicable laws.

  5. Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 11:13 AM | Permalink | Reply

    For $1.5m per annum I am sure that many climatologists will provide remote email management services for the US taxpayer. It is demanding and selfless work, but someone has to do it (for the good of the planet).

    Steve: The $1.5 MM is cumulative over a number of years.

  6. geronimo
    Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 11:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve something occurred to me today out of the blue, it’s slightly off topic, but whatever did Mann mean when he said that his forwarding of the Jones email had been common knowledge for eighteen months? We, the rest of the world only found out about Jones’ request 16 months ago when the climategate emails were published, so who knew 18 months ago?

    Steve- I presume that this is, in part, exaggeration. however, I don’t believe that the forwarding was “common knowledge”. The Penn State inquiry didn’t seem to know.

  7. SC Mike
    Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 11:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Is it not likely that this was but one grant Phil Jones had for his operation? He may have had several grants from several different organizations.

  8. Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 12:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Yes, he may have had several research grants from various agencies,

    The total spent from this DOE grant was – at that time – $1,744,130.00

  9. SC Mike
    Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 1:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The grants page of the US DOE Office of Science website is here: http://www.er.doe.gov/grants/
    After reading through that, I went to Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov/ ), then set about getting the DUNS for University of East Anglia, which is 42-440-0075. (UEA has 11 other DUNS associated with “branches” such as the library and university departments.) I got no hits for UEA DUNS at the US ORCA (https://orca.bpn.gov/) or CCR (https://www.bpn.gov/CCRSearch/Search.aspx ). I suppose a FOIA request to US DOE Office of Science would pry loose the grant and grant application, along with the periodic reports.

    Here are the UEA DUNS I found:

    42-440-0075 Earlham Rd, Norwich, Norfolk, England, NR4 7TJ
    21-160-6251 Earlham Rd, Norwich, Norfolk, England, NR4 7HL
    21-468-9684 Landbeach Rd, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, CB24 6DB
    21-509-0734 School Of Management, Norwich, Norfolk, England, NR4 7TJ
    23-182-0940 Tennyson Ave, King’S Lynn, Norfolk, England, PE30 2QW
    23-232-8760 P O Box 410, Norwich, Norfolk, England, NR4 7TB
    23-992-2503 Economics Research Centre, Norwich, Norfolk, England, NR4 7TJ
    23-995-8077 The Library, Norwich, Norfolk, England, NR4 7TJ
    23-999-0518 Management Education Office, Norwich, Norfolk, England, NR4 7TJ
    36-798-1073 Earlham Rd, Norwich, Norfolk, England, NR4 7TJ
    64-715-3071 Union Ho, Norwich, Norfolk, England, NR4 7TJ
    21-236-4389 University Of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, England, NR4 7TJ

    • Rhoda Ramirez
      Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 7:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Of course you could send a FOI request to Jones, et.al. for the contract numbers for the various grants he (they) received from the various branches of the US Government. I can’t think of ANY legitmate reason to deny THAT request and it would really burn them.

      • Iain McQueen
        Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 8:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: Rhoda Ramirez (Mar 14 19:01),
        Ah Rhoda!
        I can’t think of ANY legitmate reason to deny THAT request

        You ain’t seen David Palmer and his FOI obstruction committee in action at CRU! Anyway the Information Commissioner seems to let them decide what is legitimate.

  10. mpaul
    Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 5:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

    People should not destroy a document in order to prevent its use in an official proceeding. It would appear, on the surface that, Jones, Mann and Wahl violated that principle.

    UEA is under the administrative jurisdiction of the DOE by virtue of their accepting grant money. If Jones, Mann and Wahl could reasonably anticipate that these emails could become the subject of an official proceeding in the US (and I would argue that because the emails were the subject of a UK FOIA, the troika could reasonably assume that they could become the subject of the US proceeding) then destruction of the emails (and participating in a plan to destroy the emails) interfered with the proper administration of the DOE contract and therefore could represent tortious interference.

    More broadly 18 USC § 1519 states:

    Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

    Someone would need to look at case law to determine if interference with the proper administration of the contract would be a violation of 18 USC § 1519 since UEA was subject to DOE’s administrative jurisdiction.

  11. Iain McQueen
    Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 5:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

    This is an issue of international law, and international lawyer I am not.
    Will it make any difference under which country’s jurisdiction the contract between US DOE and UK UEA was written?

    Does the US FOIA believe that IPCC business is out with their remit? That is unclear; the UK ICO is claimed by Jones and Palmer to say it is. The ICO’s true position is also unclear to me.

    We need some rather expert lawyers I think. Maybe we need sight of the said contract, which in itself is going to be a complex rolling process

  12. Posted Mar 14, 2011 at 6:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I think this is a potentially important issue. The DOE funded the Yucca Mountain Project (YMP) in southeastern Nevada. The YMP was to have been the US’s long term commercial spent nuclear fuel geologic disposal facility.

    The YMP maintained (and still maintains) a Licensing Support Network (LSN) in which ALL project emails are archived and fully available for public examination.

    Several years ago there was an email ‘scandal’ regarding USGS researchers who had for many years been investigating the climate related infiltration forcings that impacted the performance of the proposed repository long term. When the emails were discovered by outside people looking in (using the LSN), the DOE did not deny anything. Rather they funded a replacement scientific program, to re- develop the infiltration data from scratch. This was a major multi million dollar effort. As a statistical hydrologist with climate and infiltration forcing experience, I led a team of reviewers who evaluated the new study. I’ve written about this event to some, in the past, as a comparison to the CRU emails, precisely because I was so shocked by the comparison. In DOE-world, some disturbing emails led to a concern of scientific credibility and therefore all of the work from the source scientists was thrown out and independent researches were brought in to rebuild the scientific case. In UK-CRU-world, it was obviously handled so far quite differently.
    I don’t know for sure if CRU is bound to the same ultimate path forward. But a lawyer might be able to work that out.

  13. SC Mike
    Posted Mar 15, 2011 at 9:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    In receiving a US federal grant the grantee agrees to abide by specific terms and conditions. I have no doubt that UEA is a regular grant recipient and is accustomed to the typical grantee recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Per Jigsaw, Fiona Meardon is a Research Contracts Manager at the university. http://www.jigsaw.com/scid12089751/fiona_meardon.xhtml

    That said, the US DOE Office of Science will have to meet US FOIA regulations for any FOIA request made for any grants made to the University of East Anglia. The grant proposal, periodic reports, etc. would all be subject to disclosure.

    • Iain McQueen
      Posted Mar 15, 2011 at 11:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: SC Mike (Mar 15 09:30),

      Would the USA FOIA extend to cover correspondence with or about IPCC business? Jones and Palmer connived in a story that the UK FOI did not cover such matters as it would limit scientific freedom of discussion and risk destroying the defence of Her Majaesty’s Realm! They claimed this position after ‘discussion’ with the UK ICO, though I have my doubts about their claim.

      • SC Mike
        Posted Mar 16, 2011 at 11:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

        The US DOE Office of Science would have to evaluate all of its holdings associated with the UEA grant, but would include nothing on the IPCC unless the grant’s scope included IPCC support.

  14. Kforestcat
    Posted Mar 17, 2011 at 9:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve

    Understand the cumulative vs. annual confusion having made the same mistake myself. However, the last time I came up with final figures – based on the e-mails – the totals came out more than the $1.5 quoted. (See the WUWT article “US DOE apparently funded CRU millions, not $200K as reported” Posted on July 21, 2010 by Anthony Watts. )

    It looks like the $1.5 million was a Fiscal Year (FY) 1998-2006 total not the full FY 1998-2007 total. For details on the basis of this claim see my comment “Kforestcat says: July 21, 2010 at 11:05 pm” & typo corrections at “Kforestcat says: July 22, 2010 at 1:55 pm”. In the comments I provided a detailed account – based on further input provided by other commenter’s in the article. (Note: U.S. Government fiscal years run Sept-Oct.)

    Note also that Wigley received $.0587 million such that the CRU totals came to $2.377 million in the FY 1995-2007 timeframe.

    Jones Account 1998-2007 $1.789 million.
    Wigley Account 1995-1999 $0.587 million
    Total of above $2.377 million.

    Regards, Kforestcat

  15. Posted Mar 18, 2011 at 5:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Jones has been funded by the US DoE continuously since circa 1979 – there is evidence Jones was still funded post Climategate in 2010 and possibly is still funded now by the US DoE.
    http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=479
    Yet the US DoE told me they have no requirement for Jones to supply material/data back to them.

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