The President of the University of California system oversees one heck of a lot of NIH-funded research. As we have discussed the biomedical research enterprise has been put under pressure not just by the prior interval of flat-lined (un-doubled, actually) NIH budgets.
President Mark Yudof raises some interesting issues in a video to his University.
An entry on the University of California Budget News website has an embedded video from the President.
Given the magnitude of the state funding deficit facing UC, President Yudof recently proposed that UC consider systemwide furloughs and/or salary cuts. He welcomes feedback from UC faculty and staff about the proposals.
(The embedding is disabled for others so here's the direct YouTube link. )
The interesting question as far as I am concerned has to do with NIH-grant supported salaries (and by extension other non UC sources of funding). The fraction of Investigator, trainee and tech salaries that is paid from NIH grants...is this to come under the proposed 8% UC-wide salary cut?
Clearly, such moves would do zero for the state contribution since they can't just take the direct costs that are allocated for the purpose of that extra 8% of salary. I suppose the PI could then spend the savings on more research supplies and equipment but that is an uncertain contribution to the overall economy- as likely to benefit companies outside the state as within. Seems doubtful when the downside is ticked-off staff; the people I know in some of the bigger UC institutions suggest that their mortgage payments and rents and food bills are not being reduced by 8% any time soon!
It is probably no surprise that I have a number of readers from within the UC system who are sending me comments on this issue. What are the rest of you folks hearing from within other state University systems?
For further reading see Drs. Stemwedel and IsistheScientist on the bogosity* that is furlough.
*When you have a task-based rather than hours-at-work based job, like that of being a professor and/or research scientist, furlough is just exactly like a pay cut.