Congressional hearings began this week into charges that the University of California's laboratory management system is steeped in a culture of corruption and cover-up that has cost taxpayers millions.

Los Alamos National Laboratory was the focus of attention for an oversight subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Wednesday. But Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is also being investigated by the FBI and Department of Energy. The probes come as UC is vying for federal dollars to build and run a new national bioterrorism research facility.

Whistleblowers said Wednesday that university officials engaged in a massive cover-up of widespread theft and fraud at the labs, and that the wrongdoing and cover-ups continue to this day.

At Los Alamos, one employee attempted to buy a Mustang with her lab-issued credit card; another got cash advances at a casino. Taxpayers paid for purchases such as hundreds of pairs of binoculars,...

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