March 17,2010

Grassley, Enzi Ask MIT President to Help Provide Meaningful Responses on Professor’s Paid Government Contracts

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Mike Enzi today asked the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to help provide meaningful responses to their inquiry about an MIT health care economist who testified before their committees without disclosing $400,000 in government contracts for work pertaining to health care reform.

Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on Finance, and Enzi, ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on Jan. 26 wrote to Dr. Jonathan Gruber, economics professor at MIT. Gruber’s sole-source contract with the Department of Health and Human Services was not widely known, if publicly known at all, during his high-profile advocacy of the Administration’s health care reform effort. Grassley and Enzi are concerned about witnesses who present a point of view to Congress without disclosing financial interests that might compromise their objectivity and independence.

Gruber responded to Grassley and Enzi on Feb. 23. In their letter today to Dr. Susan Hockfield, MIT president, Grassley and Enzi wrote that Gruber’s response “failed to answer any of the questions posed in the letter. Instead, the response, barely exceeding one page in length, was dismissive of any concern about the lack of disclosure and attempted to excuse his failure to disclose … and to explain away the need for any detailed response … Furthermore, Dr. Gruber did not even commit to providing any such disclosure of the financial relationship with the administration in the future.”

Grassley and Enzi asked Hockfield to work with Gruber to provide “meaningful responses” to their original inquiry and to “provide information regarding whether, and if so, how, the institution monitors the outside activities and financial interests of its faculty, and also how it manages conflicts of interests that may arise due to those activities and interests.”

The text of today’s Grassley-Enzi letter, including the text of their Jan. 26 letter, and the Gruber response are posted with this press release at