July 7, 2006

NIH REAUTHORIZATION

 

On Tuesday, June 27th, Leo Furcht, M.D., FASEB’s President and Jon Retzlaff, FASEB’s Director of Legislative Relations, met with Joe Barton (R-TX), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Bud Albright, Staff Director for the Committee and
Cheryl Jaeger and Katherine Martin, professional staff overseeing NIH Reauthorization for the Committee, to discuss the Chairman’s plans to introduce and mark-up an NIH
Reauthorization bill. While Ms. Jaeger is currently Majority Whip Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) Health Policy Advisor, she continues to work on NIH Reauthorization.


Chairman Barton informed us that he would like to introduce his bill the week of July 10th, and intends to report the NIH Reauthorization bill out of committee before the August recess. Once we are provided with bill language, FASEB plans to co-host with the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) another town hall meeting with the broader research and patient group community to discuss the bill and attempt to gain
consensus on many of the key areas.


Summary of FASEB’s Meeting with Chairman Barton:
Chairman Barton explained that his number one priority is to reauthorize NIH. It has been thirteen years since the Committee has formally reviewed NIH to ensure that it is being efficiently and effectively managed. Chairman Barton believes that it is not
acceptable for a $28 billion agency to escape a periodic reassessment and review of its activities. He stated that he is a strong supporter of NIH, and his efforts are designed to
help the agency move forward. Mr. Barton informed us that he has spoken to Senate L/HHS Appropriations Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA), House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and House L/HHS Appropriations Chairman Ralph Regula (R-OH). He said that they are supportive of his overall efforts to review and reauthorize NIH. Though, they (like us) are waiting to see the actual bill language before they will be able to comment on it one way or another.


Specific Concepts Proposed:
While we still have not seen any actual bill language, Chairman Barton described certain
key aspects of his proposal, including:


1. Appropriating to Individual Institutes and Centers (ICs)
Chairman Barton explained that he listened to the concerns about separating NIH
Institutes and Centers (ICs) into two categories (mission-specific and science-enabling),
and decided against instituting such a plan. Therefore, his proposal would encourage
appropriators to continue providing funding to the individual ICs.


2. Overall NIH Authorization Levels
Chairman Barton informed us that he is prepared to propose that NIH be authorized to
grow at a rate of five percent for each year the authorization is in effect (FY2007 -
FY2009), and stated that he would fight to make sure that NIH would receive the five percent increase each year.


3. NIH Common Fund
Chairman Barton stated that the bill would set aside 5 percent for the common fund in the first year of the authorization; 7.5 percent in the second year; and 10 percent in the final year of the authorization. We informed him that Dr. Zerhouni has publicly stated that the common fund should not grow beyond 1.7 percent until NIH is growing at a rate above biomedical inflation. However, Chairman Barton said that he would not accept anything below five percent. We explained that in an environment of flat budgets, ICs’ budgets would be severely impacted (especially since in any given year, ICs are only able to redistribute roughly twenty percent of their individual budgets).


4. NIH Director’s Transfer Authority
We were informed that the NIH Director’s transfer authority would remain at one
percent.


5. Individual Institute and Center Budget Increases Linked to “Shared Funds”
Ms. Jaeger and Ms. Martin explained that the bill would encourage NIH to utilize the
electronic reporting system (proposed in the bill) to track all research grants and
programs and assess which research programs and grants involve collaborative efforts
between one or more Institutes and Centers (ICs). The Committee proposes that ICs
funding increases be determined based in part on the level of internal collaborative work
(“shared funding”) that the IC, as determined by each Institute and Center Director,
engaged in during the previous fiscal year. The staffers suggested that ICs should be
spending at least ten percent of its budget on trans-NIH initiatives. Dr. Furcht explained
that the best ideas often come from investigator-initiated research proposals, and
expressed concern that this kind of emphasis on trans-NIH research may result in NIH
scientific program staff exerting much more influence over the direction of science than
is optimal.


6. Additional Concepts Proposed
a) A new demonstration program to award grants for high-impact, cutting edge research;
b) Establishment of a “scientific management review” group to review the structural and
organizational design of NIH every 5 years;
c) A new Agency-wide reporting system to catalog all NIH research activities in a
standardized format; and
d) Establishment of the Division of Strategic Planning and Portfolio Management to
assist the NIH Director with managing the entire research portfolio of the agency, such as being able to identify the areas of research which are either underemphasized or
overemphasized.

 

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HOUSE FY2007 SSJC APPROPRIATIONS

 

House Fully Funds President’s American Competitiveness Initiative for NSF


On June 29, 2006, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the FY 2007 Science,
State, Justice and Commerce appropriations bill. This legislation included funding for the
National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA). A full copy of the text of the legislation can be found on the
Library of Congress website, located here
(http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app07.html)


For NSF, the House approved the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative
request and the SSJC subcommittee’s mark of $6.02 billion for NSF. This is an 8%
increase over the FY 2006 funding level of $5.58 billion.


For NASA, the House passed legislation restored cuts to science and aeronautics
programs but forgot about the Human Systems, Research and Technology Program
(HRST). The bill funds HRST at $275 million, $349 million below the FY 2006 level of
$624 million.


In praising this appropriation, outgoing House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood
Boehlert (R-NY), noted that “the passage of this bill may be looked back on as a
landmark moment in American History.” However, it should be noted that attached to this legislation was an amendment by Congressman Scott Garrett (R-NJ). This amendment, if enacted into law, would prohibit the use of funds from being used to send or otherwise pay for the attendance of more than 50 employees from a Federal department or agency at any single conference outside of the United States.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science (the Senate
counterpart to the House SSJC Appropriations Subcommittee) is expected to take up their FY 2007 spending bill on Tuesday, July 11, 2006.

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HOUSE AND SENATE FY2007 ENERGY AND WATER APPROPRIATIONS

Status of House FY2007 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill (DOE)
The funding process for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science is moving at a
rapid pace. On May 24, the full House of Representatives approved the FY 2007 Energy
and Water Appropriation’s bill which included $4.13 billion for the Department of
Energy’s Office of Science. This is the level requested in the President’s American
Competitiveness Initiative and a 15% increase over the FY 2006 level of $3.59 billion.


Senate Appropriations Committee Passes FY 2007 DOE Funding Bill
On June 29, 2006, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved their FY 2007 Energy
and Water appropriations bill. Included in this legislation, the Department of Energy’s
Office of Science (DOE SC) received $4.241 billion. This funding level is $111 million
more than the House passed level and the President’s request in his American
Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) and an 18% increase over the FY 2006 level of $3.59
billion. A full copy of the text of the legislation can be found on the Library of Congress
website, located here (link to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app07.html)


In commenting on the committee’s fully funding the ACI, Energy Secretary Dr. Samuel
Bodman said, “the American Competitiveness Initiative will boost our basic science
research funding. It will help support and grow the world-class scientific discovery
occurring out our national laboratories. It will also help train a new generation of
researchers and scientists that will ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity
and innovation for generations to come.”


To date, the Senate has not scheduled a floor vote on this legislation.

 

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GO BACK TO JULY 7, WASHINGTON UPDATE

 

FASEB’s Washington Update is brought to you bi-monthly by the FASEB Office of Public Affairs. We welcome your questions and comments – please contact Jennifer Zeitzer at jzeitzer@faseb.org or 301-634-7650. For more information about how to get involved in research advocacy, visit: http://capwiz.com/faseb/home/

 

   
   
 

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