Roger Pielke Jr recently made the remarkable discovery that, in addition to his university salary from George Mason University (reported by Pielke as $250,000), Jagadish Shukla, the leader of the #RICO20, together with his wife, had received a further $500,000 more in 2014 alone from federal climate grants funnelled through a Shukla-controlled “non-profit” (Institute for Global Environment and Security, Inc.), yielding total income in 2014 of approximately $750,000.
Actually, the numbers are even worse than Pielke thought.
- Pielke had quoted Shukla’s 2013 university salary, but his university salary had increased more than 25% between 2013 and 2014: from $250,816 in 2013 to $314,000 in 2014.
- In addition, the “non-profit” organization had also employed one of Shukla’s children (not reported, but say $90,000); and,
- IGES transferred $100,000 from its climate grants to a second corporation controlled by the Shukla family (the Institute for Global Education Equality of Opportunity and Prosperity, Inc.), which in turn transferred $100,000 to an educational charity in Shukla’s home town in India, doubtless a worthy charity, but one that Shukla could have supported from his own already generous stipend.
Over a million dollars in total in 2014 alone.
In addition, Shukla’s long-time associate, James Kinter, participated in the same double dip, though on a less grandiose scale. Kinter, also a Professor at George Mason, doubled his 2014 university salary of $180,038 with $171,320 from IGES, for a total 2014 income of $351,358.
In today’s post, I’ll make an attempt to follow the money. This analysis is not an audit as I obviously do not have access to original documents – only public information and, for the purposes of this note, only online research. In addition, the history is quite complicated,as the institutions reach back over 30 years and have changed relationships over time. I’ve examined NSF, NOAA and NASA online grant information, which covers only part of the period (NOAA to 2001; NASA to 2006) and placed a summary spreadsheet online here.
Because “warmists” regularly re-assure skeptics that income from research is strictly regulated under federal policies (e,g. Andrew Dessler here), the parties who ought to have the most interest in the structure are warmists, rather than skeptics, though the opposite seems to be the case thus far.
Before discussing Shukla’s structure, I’ll first quickly comment on institutional policies, as both the federal agencies (NSF, NOAA, NASA) and the university (George Mason) purport to have policies that prevent double-dipping.
NSF policies purportedly regulate research compensation for members of university faculties by limiting their compensation in the academic year to their university salary, while permitting them to top up their university salary in summer months, but set their compensation at the monthly rate of their university salary (the “two-ninths rule”, as follows:
611.1 Salaries and Wages
- All Grantees. All remuneration paid currently or accrued by the organization for employees working on the NSF-supported project during the grant period is allowable to the extent that:
- total compensation to individual employees is reasonable for the work performed and conforms to the established policy of the organization consistently applied to both government and non-government activities; and
- the charges for work performed directly under NSF grants and for other work allocable as indirect costs are determined and documented as provided in the applicable Federal cost principles.
- Colleges and Universities. Section J.10 of OMB Circular A-21 establishes criteria for compensation work performed on government projects by faculty members during and outside the academic year.
NSF’s policy is:
- Academic Year Salaries. To be based on the individual faculty member’s regular compensation for the continuous period which, under the policy of the institution concerned, constitutes the basis of his/her salary. Except as provided in GPM 616.2, “Intra-University Consulting,” charges to Federal grants, irrespective of the basis of computation, will not exceed the proportionate share of the base salary for that period.
- Periods Outside the Academic Year. During the summer months or other periods not included in the period for which the base salary is paid, salary is to be paid at a monthly rate not in excess of the base salary divided by the number of months in the period for which the base salary is paid. NSF policy on funding of summer salaries (known as NSF’s two-ninths rule) remains unchanged: proposal budgets submitted should not request, and NSF-approved budgets will not include, funding for an individual investigator which exceeds two-ninths of the academic year salary. This limit includes summer salary received from all NSF-funded grants.
Andrew Dessler, who, like most climate academics, has consistently denied that research funding has any impact on alarmism, summarized the above policy as follows:
Texas A&M pays 10 months of my salary to teach. The other two months of my salary are paid out of grants for doing research, but the University sets the amount I receive during those two months equal to the m$158.06onthly rate that the University pays me the other 10 months. Thus, the vast majority of my salary is completely disconnected with research.
There are many other obligations on recipients of federal research grants, many of which are summarized in the NSF Grants Manual.
George Mason University Policy
Shukla has been on the faculty of George Mason University since 1993 (1984-1992 University of Maryland) and, during that time, has obtained federal grants both in the name of George Mason University and the Institute for Global Environment and Security Inc. discussed below).
George Mason, like most universities, has a policy on conflict of interest, including a detailed policy on conflict of interest in federally funded research. Under such policies, “non-profits” are classified as “business”, a protocol that seems very apt when large salaries are withdrawn by insiders from a closely-held “non-profit”:
“Business” means a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust or foundation, or any other individual or entity carrying on a business or profession, whether or not for profit.
The University conflict of interest policies require comprehensive and formal disclosure of personal and family financial interests to the Office of Sponsored Programs.
This policy applies to any person who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of any research funded by a Federal agency. The responsible parties listed in this policy act as institutional officials for purposes of policy implementation, enforcement, and reporting.
Financial Conflict of interest” (FCOI) means a significant financial interest (SFI) directly and significantly affecting the design, conduct, or reporting of the federally funded research.
“Significant financial interest” means a financial interest consisting of one or more of the following interests of the investigator (and/or those of the investigator’s spouse and dependent children) that reasonably appears to be related to the investigator’s institutional responsibilities:
Investigators who apply for any federally funded research must disclose certain financial interests related to that research. Specifically, each investigator must provide a list of his or her known SFIs (and those of his or her spouse and/or dependent children) related to the investigator’s institutional responsibilities.
As a part of the university’s application for federal funds, each investigator must certify (1) that he or she has no such interests or (2) that he or she has such interests and has disclosed them through the institution’s disclosure process. The Office of Sponsored Programs maintains custody of the investigator’s certification.
I have not attempted to make a comprehensive summary of obligations under George Mason University policy.
University of Maryland
Shukla worked at the University of Maryland from 1984-1992 as Professor, Department of Meteorology. While at the University of Maryland, Shukla established the “Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Interactions” (University of Maryland, Dept. of Meteorology).
Nearly all of Shukla’s key associates at George Mason date back to the University of Maryland in the 1980s. Edwin Schneider was a Research Scientist at the “Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Interactions, University of Maryland, Dept. of Meteorology” from 1984-1993, James Kinter was Assistant Professor, Department of Meteorology, University of Maryland from 1984-87, subsequently becoming Research Scientist with “COLA, Univ. MD, College Park, MD” from 1987-1993. Daniel Straus was a Research Scientist at the “Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Interactions, University of Maryland, Dept. of Meteorology” from 1988-1993. Paul Dirmeyer was a Graduate Fellow and Graduate Research Assistant at University of Maryland from 1986-92 before becoming a Research Scientist at “Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Interactions, Department of Meteorology, University of Maryland at College Park” in 1993.
NOAA and NASA online grant information does not go back that far (NOAA only to 2001; NASA only to 2007), but NSF grant data shows two almost simultaneous grants to the University of Maryland entitled “Predictability of Monthly and Seasonal Average Circulation of the Atmosphere”, totalling $2.9 million. Shukla is PI for both grants, but there are different NSF officers for some reason.
Shukla and associates (with Schneider also appearing as PI) received a new round of NSF grants in 1991, again in the name of the University of Maryland.
Institute for Global Environment and Security, Inc. (IGES)
In 1992, Shukla, Kinter and Schneider, while still presumably employees of the University of Maryland, appear to have submitted a proposal to NSF for funding via a private Maryland non-profit corporation, then recently incorporated by Shukla (the Institute for Global Environment and Security, Inc.), as, on January 6, 1993, NSF awarded three grants to IGES totalling $1.7 million, with Shukla, Kinter and Schneider all acting as PIs or co-PIs. Shukla named himself President. The present outside directors are an artist (Nora Rosenbaum) and a photographic artist (Patricia Peck) – both of whom were related to Jule Charney – and long-time friend of Shukla’s from Brazil (Antonio Moura).
With the funding, Shukla established the “Center of Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies” as a unit of the Institute for Global Environment and Security, Inc. Kinter, Schneider, Straus and Dirmeyer all moved from the University of Maryland in 1993 to join the new enterprise.
In 1994, Shukla was appointed as Professor of Earth Sciences and Global Change at George Mason University. Most of his COLA associates would subsequently obtain appointments, but, in the mid-1990s, Shukla appears to have been the only one. In 1994, IGES obtained its first five-year block grant ( a joint grant from NSF, NOAA and NASA) in the amount of $2.25 million/year for 1994-1998. Over the years, IGES obtained increasingly larger five-year block grants in 1999, 2004 and 2009. IGES appears to have obtained additional special grants from time to time.
Concurrent with awards to IGES, Shukla also obtained NSF grants in the name of George Mason, sometimes with identical titles. The first such award to George Mason came in 1995 with an award from NSF (Jay Fein once again, PI – Shukla) of $1.1 million entitled “Predictability of Short Term Climate Variations” – a very similar title to the IGES grant.
In the 1999 funding cycle, NSF awarded funds under the title “Predictability and Variability of the Present Climate” to both IGES and George Mason ($4.7 million and $1.25 million, respectively). It is unclear from this limited record what the respective responsibilities of each institution were: whether the funds were all used for the ongoing research at the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (IGES) or whether there was a separate program at George Mason at the time.
Over time, the base block funding increased: from $2.25 million/year in 1994-98 to $2.75 million/year in 1999-2004, $3.25 million in 2004-2009 and $3,6 million/year in 2009-2014. In addition to block funds, IGES also received special funds. Total funding to IGES appears to be at least $75 million: online grant archives at NSF and NOAA show a total of over $28 million and $22 million respectively, but NOAA information is unavailable prior to 2001 and NASA does not provide information on amounts (or at least I have not located it).
Concurrently, George Mason University received at least $17.5 million (the total shown in the online NSF and NOAA archives).
Migration to George Mason
Over the years, functions and personnel of COLA (IGES) have migrated to George Mason, intensifying in recent years. The most recent grants to IGES Inc. appear to have been made in 2009-2010, though funding under these grants seems to have continued until 2014-2015. In recent years, George Mason University has made a number of announcements on the transiation of COLA (IGES) to George Mason, but the precise terms of each agreement are hard to figure out from the public record available thus far.
In 2002 (eight years after Shukla), Kinter, Schneider and Straus were all appointed to the staff of the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences department, George Mason University in 2002, coinciding with expansion of their climate program. All three continued their employment with IGES (COLA), where Kinter became Director in 2004.
George Mason’s webpage includes a lengthy list of university centers and institutions and, by January 2012 (the earliest web archived version), the Center for Land-Ocean-Atmosphere Studies was included in the list (January 2012).
On May 10, 2013, George Mason University announced that IGES and COLA(IGES), organizations with “long-standing partnerships” with the University, were “joining” the University and would be “located within” the College of Science:
The Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES) and the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA), independent nonprofit research entities established in Maryland with long-standing partnerships with George Mason University, are joining Mason’s College of Science. An event celebrating these new groups will take place at 2 p.m. Monday, May 13, in Mason Hall, Rooms D3A and B.
IGES was established in Maryland in 1993 as a nonprofit to improve understanding and prediction of the variations of the Earth’s climate through scientific research on climate variability and climate predictability, and to share both the results of this research and the tools necessary to carry out this research with society as a whole.
As part of IGES, the world-renowned Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere-Studies (COLA) will also be at Mason. COLA is dedicated to understanding climate fluctuations on short- and long-term scales, with special emphasis on the interactions between Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces.
The institute and center will be initially located within the College of Science. All IGES and COLA staff supported by research grants will move from Maryland to Mason, and the staff will teach and conduct their ongoing research projects at Mason.
For the past 20 years, the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Aeronautics and Space Administration have supported IGES and COLA research with an annual funding of about $4 million.
Once again, the university’s list of its centers in July 2013 includes the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies.
A year later (May 3, 2014), the University announced that Kinter and associates had been awarded $10.5 million from the NSF-NOAA-NASA group for continuation of the COLA work, now titled “Predictability and Prediction of Climate from Days to Decades.”:
Kinter and his team were awarded $4.5 million by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, $2.5 million by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and $3.5 million by the National Science Foundation to work on a five-year project called “Predictability and Prediction of Climate from Days to Decades.”
Kinter leads the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies based at George Mason University.
The NSF grants archive shows a grant (1338427) bearing this title in the amount of $4.2 million with start date of Jan 1, 2014 in the name of George Mason University, while the NOAA grant archive shows a grant (NA04OAR4310160) of $1.8 million with start date of January 2014 also in the name of George Mason, while I have been unable thus far to locate the corresponding grant in the NASA archive.
Despite the various changes in grant structure, one constant (or rather steadily increasing amount) has been the several sources of compensation to Shukla and his wife.
In 2001, the earliest year thus far publicly available, in 2001, in addition to his university salary (not yet available, but presumably about $125,000), Shukla and his wife received a further $214,496 in compensation from IGES (Shukla -$128,796; Anne Shukla – $85,700). Their combined compensation from IGES doubled over the next two years to approximately $400,000 (additional to Shukla’s university salary of say $130,000), for combined compensation of about $530,000 by 2004.
Shukla’s university salary increased dramatically over the decade reaching $250,866 by 2013 and $314,000 by 2014. (In this latter year, Shukla was paid much more than Ed Wegman, a George Mason professor of similar seniority). Meanwhile, despite the apparent transition of IGES to George Mason, the income of the Shuklas from IGES continued to increase, reaching $547,000 by 2013. Combined with Shukla’s university salary, the total compensation of Shukla and his wife exceeded $800,000 in both 2013 and 2014. In addition, as noted above, Shukla’s daughter continued to be employed by IGES in 2014; IGES also distributed $100,000 from its climate grant revenue to support an educational charity in India which Shukla had founded.
There is a surprising link between the George Mason department and one of my earliest adversaries at NSF, David Verardo, Mann’s handler at NSF, who told him in 2003 that he didn’t have to provide data to me – that Mann was entitled to his view of climate and I was entitled to mine. Verardo’s wife, Stacey Verardo, is a colleague of Shukla, Kinter, Klinger and the others in the AOES department at George Mason, while Verardo himself is a member of the Adjunct Faculty at George Mason. (Update: David Verardo has commented below that his “wife is a geologist who has worked in the department long before climate dynamics was a part of the department” and “has no professional relationship with the climate dynamics group beyond serving in the same department and working on instructional issues that arise at the university” and that he himself “do not handle proposals from GMU because of obvious conflicts of interest but even more practical, the awards to climate dynamic research are not in my NSF program.”)
Shukla attracted attention as the lead author of the RICO20 letter, which was originally posted at the website of the Institute of Global Environment and Society Inc, though the professors all listed George Mason University as their affiliation. Pielke Jr became curious about the institution that had chosen to initiate this offensive letter and had the bright idea of looking up their 990 filings, thus discovering Shukla’s double dip.
Five other George Mason employees were RICO20 signatories, four of whom are long-time Shukla associates: Dirmeyer, Straus, Paul Schopf and Barry Klinger. (It’s interesting that James Kinter didn’t sign it.) The other George Mason RICO 20 signatory, Edward Maibach, is in some sort of climate communications and, together with Heidi Cullen, holds a $2,998,178 grant from NSF. Many of the other RICO20 signatories had previous associations with IGES. Kevin Trenberth and Mike Wallace had both been on its “Science Advisory Committee” in the past. Nearly all of the RICO20 signatories, including Trenbeth andWallace, attended a large symposium in April 2015 to honor Shukla – see picture at link.
IGES’ webpage says that its corporate objective was to share “the fruits” of its research “with society as a whole”, though, in practice, an equally important objective seems to have been to share the fruits of its research funding with Shukla (and Kinter). The sheer lucrativeness of Shukla’s deal raised some eyebrows in skeptic blogs, but none so far at warmist blogs, not even at Michael Tobis’ aptly named Only In It for the Gold or among Barry Klinger and the RICO20.