As we head into the new year, we have an exciting piece of news for you to end the year on. The VIPER Act has passed Congress and was signed into law on December 23!
The VIPER Act addressed the issue of “209” which by a Department of Justice interpretation, impacted research studies conducted by VA employees who had compensated appointments and who also conducted VA Research outside their VA tour of duty at the VA Facility on Without Compensation (WOC) appointments. While there was no compensation from the VA, these VA employees received compensation from the University or the VA Nonprofit Corporation (VA NPC) for this work. This practice was considered a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 209 by the DOJ. Thus, VA compensated employees who conducted VA Research outside their VA tour of duty could not be compensated by a non-Federal entity to work on VA research unless the State Treasury exception applies, even if they held a separate WOC appointment.
With the passage of the VIPER Act, the restriction on dually appointed personnel (DAPs) receiving compensation from NPCs and universities has been removed in law. This will once again allow DAPs (appointments at VA and the university) to be paid for approved research at VA. At this point, the VA Office of Research and Development is preparing specific guidance on how the VIPER Act will impact VA Research as a whole since additional provisions were included in the original legislation, however NPCs can begin planning on paying their DAPs and removing any barriers on their end for a smooth reimplementation of the original practice of paying DAPs.Happy New Year and we look forward to providing more guidance on the other provisions of VIPER as they now come out from the agency-level!