Mo' Money for the NIH in a Supplemental Appropriations Act

Jul 02 2008 Published by under NIH Budgets and Economics

President George W. Bush signed H.R. 2642, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008 on June 30th. This little bit of mid-year pork includes, yes, a little sniff for the NIH. Schweet.
[ Agent writedit is all over the case, as one would expect. ]
So what's the NIH cut? The text of the bill which refers to the NIH says:

For an additional amount for `Office of the Director', $150,000,000, which shall be transferred to the Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health and to the Common Fund established under section 402A(c)(1) of the Public Health Service Act in proportion to the appropriations otherwise made to such Institutes, Centers, and Common Fund for fiscal year 2008: Provided, That these funds shall be used to support additional scientific research and shall be merged with and be available for the same purposes and for the same time period as the appropriation or fund to which transferred: Provided further, That this transfer authority is in addition to any other transfer authority available to the National Institutes of Health: Provided further, That none of these funds may be transferred to `National Institutes of Health-Buildings and Facilities', the Center for Scientific Review, the Center for Information Technology, the Clinical Center, the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, or the Office of the Director (except for the transfer to the Common Fund).

This summary of recent appropriation numbers from the NIH office of the budget tells us that the 2008 overall budget of the NIH is about $29.5 billion but of course that includes a lot of the operations that are excluded from the above supplement. And of course, without knowing anything about how the Great Zerhouni plans to distribute the windfall it is impossible to determine how it might affect grant funding at each IC.
If we do the usual translation of a $250K full modular R01 with 56% (typical for Universities) overhead ($390,000 total costs) this gets us a figure of some 384 new grants. (Of course, I have no idea whether the ICs do some sort of accounting in the current budget for the remaining out-years of the typical proposal. They should, shouldn't they? Have to escrow the entire proposed cost of the new award in the year they award it? Assuming 5 years of funding that would bring us to 77 new grants if all costs were accounted for in advance. )
I wonder how they'll chose to spend the money. Pour it into new grant awards to get the investigators off their backs? New top-down initiatives? Do they have things they've been back-burnering that need to be paid off?
I'm not shy...NEW GRANTS say I! A few more New Investigators here, a couple of 18th percentile pickups there, pick up some cheap R21 and R03 apps for grins.... Well, I can dream.

3 responses so far

  • Becca says:

    Yay for some good news for a change!
    Money for the good guys!

  • whimple says:

    R01s last for 4 or 5 years, but I don't read this supplemental cash as being recurring. If this is a one-short pork infusion, it will fund about 80 full-module R01s.

  • Lorax says:

    My understanding is there is no "escrow," NIH must spend every dime or lose the balance. This was one of the contributing problems to the downturn following the doubling of the budget. Once the doubling stopped, the NIH could not meet its previous commitments to funded grants due to inflationary increases. This problem was compounded by the flat (ie less than inflation) budgets following the deep economic strategies of our wondrous leader. While I will never begrudge new money, this seems to be very shortsighted, 30 million for 5 years would be more appreciated by me, rather than 150 million for one.

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