Stanford University President Donald Kennedy said yesterday he will remove about $500,000 from the school's bill to the federal government for indirect research costs.
His announcement came in the wake of disclosures that federal research funds had paid for flowers, refurbishing a grand piano and depreciation on a 72-foot yacht.
He said Stanford was implementing a plan to re-examine and strengthen Stanford's accounting system, including the hiring of outside experts to make recommendations to a special advisory panel.
"We do not flinch from strict accountability for public funds," said Kennedy. "It is entirely appropriate for Congress and the executive agencies to review the expenditures of public monies.
"We expect this three-part initiative will put us on the swiftest path toward resolution of the questions that have been raised about accountability for indirect federal research costs at Stanford," he added.
Kennedy sent an outline of the plan to Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations, who had planned hearings on the subject.
When Stanford's billings were uncovered late last year, the Office of Naval Research sent a five-member team to look into the school's billing practices. The office oversees federal research grants to Stanford.
Stanford acknowledged it had erroneously charged the government for $184,000 in depreciation costs on the university-owned yacht, several boats and some athletic department equipment.
Kennedy acknowledged the controversy over use of federal research funds for flowers, building a cedar-lined closet and refinishing a piano at the home he uses as university president. He said Stanford is withdrawing all general administration costs for operations of the home claimed for the fiscal years since 1981.
For those same years, the university also is withdrawing all costs claimed for the operations of two other university-owned facilities -- the homes of the senior vice president and vice president for public affairs.
"Because we believe strongly in the importance of these facilities in the conduct of university business, including federally sponsored research, we will enter immediately into negotiations with the government to develop an appropriate arrangement for the proper allocation of these costs in future years," he said.