The University of California San Francisco was awarded two federal grants (which were a part of the stimulus program) worth approximately $1.5 million dollars to research “erectile dysfunction of overweight middle aged men and the accurate reporting of someone's sexual history,” NBC Bay Area reports.
“Grant number 1R01HD056950-01A2 was among the thousands of grants funded, receiving $1.2 million dollars,” the Bay Area’s Investigative Unit reports, “This grant studied how to improve the accuracy of how people responded to questions about their sexual history.”
"If you honestly report on your sexual activity and number of partners?" Scott Amey, the general council for POGO, the Project on Government Oversight, a DC-based watchdog group, said.
"I don't think most tax payers would think that would be a justified spending of stimulus money to conduct a sex study over fixing bridges and roads that are crumbling every day," Amey added.
The University of California San Francisco was contacted by NBC Bay Area news team.
"Does it make you wonder a little bit, stimulus money for a study like this?" one reporter asked Jeff Sheehy, an employee of UCSF’s Aids Research Center.
"No it doesn't," he answered. "Because to my mind we save money if we get better health outcomes."
"Playing devil's advocate," the Bay Area reporter continued, "Do taxpayers need to spend $1.2 million dollars to figure this out?" And by “this,” the reporter meant “high risk sexual behavior.”
"The judgment wasn't one that I was asked," Sheehy replied.
What did UCSF do with all that money?
“[F]or $1.2 million dollars, taxpayers funded a study that included 200 videotaped interviews at $6000 per interview,” according to the investigative report.
"I understand people could look at it and have issues but this is research," Sheehy said, defending the study and its cost.
According to Sheehy, the grants managed to create maybe 13 jobs (11 researchers and two consultants). However, according to recovery.gov, the grants created .85 jobs, which means the grants funded less than one person.
But what was that about the erectile dysfunction study? Unlike the “Answer honestly, how many people have you slept with?” study, UCSF was unwilling to answer questions from the NBC news team. Instead, they gave them an official statement:
Obesity related health issues currently cost $147 Billion per year in direct medical costs in the United States…Health providers therefore continue to search for incentives to encourage people to live a healthier lifestyle, to benefit both individuals and society…Preliminary analysis indicates that is feasible to enroll men in this type of research, they successfully lose the expected weight over a 12-week period, and they see an improvement in ED symptoms.