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Too Ethical?

Phamalot's Ed Silverman reports that a former National Cancer Institute Office of Ethics director was disciplined and transferred for raising red flags about the seemingly unusual travel activities of some agency employees. The ethics director voiced her concerns that NCI employees were taking too many "sponsored" trips — those paid for by industry — including jaunts to conferences overseas in Germany, France, Italy, and Brazil, among other places, some costing upwards of $10,000. Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the US Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to Harold Varmus and Francis Collins expressing his concern that the ethics director seems to have been disciplined for doing her job, Silverman says. She was told to stop raising concerns that "NCI’s sponsored travel policy might be an illegal augmentation of NCI’s government travel appropriation, that the location of some of the conferences might be inappropriate, and that the frequency and cost of the trips might be questionable," Grassley's letter reads. In his correspondence, Grassley called the situation "deeply troubling," and asked NCI to provide employee travel details and conduct an internal review, Silverman adds.

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