Chair Rodgers Subpoenas NIH for Documents Related to Investigation into Sexual Harassment at NIH and NIH Grantee Institutions
Committee seeks whistleblowers to inform investigation
Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) today issued a subpoena to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for documents and information related to the Committee’s multi-year investigation into the NIH’s handling of sexual harassment complaints within the agency and its grantee institutions.
The investigation, led by Chair Rodgers and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), has uncovered at least 300 cases related to harassment since 2018. Over the course of the Committee’s investigation, the NIH has refused to turn over more information related to its handling of this widespread problem.
The subpoena comes after Chair Rodgers notified the NIH of the Committee’s intent to use compulsory measures, including in a formal letter on January 26, 2024, and subsequently last week. The NIH failed to respond adequately to the request by last Friday's deadline.
In the January 26 letter, Chair Rodgers wrote:
“Sexual harassment is degrading and illegal. Studies show it has a negative effect on the ability of women to engage in research at the same level as men. Title IX prohibits sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding, and federal agencies are required to enforce the law at the universities they fund. As the largest public funder of biomedical research, the NIH is uniquely positioned to transform the culture of science to prevent sexual harassment and mitigate its detrimental impacts.”
“Unfortunately, the NIH has failed to comply adequately with requests for information and documents related to its handling of sexual harassment complaints. The NIH’s course of conduct demonstrates a lack of good faith and an unwillingness to engage with the Committee voluntarily. Accordingly, the Committee has no choice but to issue a subpoena compelling production of these documents so that the Committee can carry out its oversight responsibilities.”
CLICK HERE to read the full letter.
CLICK HERE to read the subpoena cover letter.
TIMELINE LEADING UP TO SUBPOENA:
- August 10, 2021: E&C Republican Leaders Question NIH’s Handling of Sexual Harassment Complaints
- August 11, 2022: E&C Republican Leaders follow up with NIH on Insufficient Response to its Letter on the NIH’s handling of Sexual Harassment
- November 30, 2022: E&C Republicans to NIH: Turn Over Previously Requested Information Ahead of New Congress
- March 14, 2023: E&C Republicans Press NIH for Information on Handling of Sexual Harassment Complaints
- October 6, 2023: E&C Republicans Signal Intent to Issue Subpoenas to Obtain Information on NIH’s Handling of Sexual Harassment if Questions Go Unanswered
- January 26, 2024: Chair Rogers notifies NIH of Imminent Subpoena
The Committee is seeking whistleblowers with knowledge of sexual harassment at the NIH or NIH grantee institutions, as well as those with knowledge of how the NIH handles such complaints.
The right for public employees to communicate with Congress, in their private capacities, is established in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In addition, various U.S. laws prohibit retaliation against whistleblowers for providing information to Congress. However, individuals still take serious risks when they engage in whistleblowing activity.
To better protect your communications, do not contact the Committee using work resources, work contact information, or while you are working. Further, consider consulting an attorney experienced in representing whistleblowers before you make a disclosure.
Do not submit classified information or other information barred from release through this form or by email. Unauthorized handling of classified information could result in criminal prosecution.
The Committee respects your need to remain confidential and will use your contact information only to follow up with you regarding your submission. You may submit a disclosure anonymously. However, please be aware that anonymous disclosures may limit the Committee’s ability to respond to the information that you provide.
Individuals with information about harassment at the NIH may contact the Committee via email at:
Individuals with information about harassment at institutions that receive NIH grants may contact the Committee via email at:
Additional resources can be found HERE.