House Investigators disclosed yesterday that Dr. Frank J. Rausher Jr., while director of the National Cancer Institute in 1973, billed the American Cancer Society for expenses incurred by his wife when she accompanied him to ACS meetings in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and Manhattan.
They said they were told by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare's general counsel that the billings were "at least" a violation of the prohibition in HEW's Standards of Conduct of actions that may create the appearance of a conflict of interest.
In addition to billing the ACS, Rauscher submitted expense accounts to the government indicating that he may have collected twice for some expenses.
Rauscher left the NCI in November to become senior vice president for research of the ACS, a large, voluntary organization. The move more than doubled his $37,000 government salary.
He was a spectator at a hearing that explored ties between the CS and the NCI, which share the many common goals and co-sponsored the much-criticised pilot program to try to detect breast cancer with X rays. Critics complain that they neglect environmentally caused cancer other than smoking.
The hearing brought out that nine high NCS officials have served on key ACS panels, while eight ACS officials have served on the NCI Advisory Board.
Does the ACS run the NCI? wondered Rep. L. H. Fountain (D.N.C.), chairman of the House Intergovernmental Relations and Human Resources Subcommittee.
One indication that Rauscher possibly engaged in what Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D.Calif.) termed "doubled-dipping" came from a cab bill on Dec. 16, 1973.That night the NCI chief returned from Jamaica, where he had met at the Half Moon Hotel with about 35 scientists whose research is financed by the ACS.
At Dulles International Airport, Rauscher, unable to find a limouine because of a snowstorm, took a taxi to his home in Rockville - a $22 ride. He then billed the ACS for $22 and the government for $22.
Talking with reporters before they had a chance to examine ACS and govermnent expense accounts, Rauscher said he had been aware ofthe HEW Standards of Conduct4, which warn of criminal penalties in the conflict-of-interest law for federal employees who "accept directly or indirectly any ... thing of monetary value from members of the public with whom he has official relationships..."
NCI grants to and contracts with the ACS total $1 million in the fiscal years 1972 through 1976, including $275,000 in the year Rauscher and his wife, Margaret, made the trips.
Rauscher said it was "long-standing policy" for NCI officials to accept reimbursement from the ACI for wives who go along to ACS junctions. "It never occurred to me or others" that this could be improper, he said. He also said that he billed the ACS for "anything above the per diem" for subsistence andother expenses paid by the government.
At the Half Moon Hotel, Rauscher's bill included a room charge of $30.88 for one person and $21.12 for a second, for each of four days. He charged the ACS for the entire $356.28 bill while, the records show, billing the government for full-day and part-day subsistence totaling $144.
In contrast, he deducted $15 "government allowance for my share of room" when he and his wife stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria in November, 1973, and billed the ACS for his wife's share, $31.80. He told reporters he had gone to New York to receive the ACS' National Award. Rauscher got the award two years later.