Never Ever Trust a Dec 1 NIH Grant Start Date: The Sickening

Mar 09 2016 Published by under NIH, NIH Budgets and Economics, NIH Careerism

As I noted in a prior post, the Cycle I NIH Grant awards (submitted in Feb-Mar, Reviewed Jun-July, Council Aug) with a first possible funding date of December 1 hardly ever are funded on time. This is due to Congress never passing a budget for the Fiscal Year that starts in October on time. The Congress sometimes goes into a stop-gap measure, like Continuing Resolution, which theoretically permits Federal agencies to spend along the parameters of the past year's budget. I find that NIH ICs of my greatest interest are highly conservative and never* fund new grants in December. The ICs that I follow almost inevitably wait until late Jan when Congress returns from their winter recess to see if they will do something more permanent.

New Cycle I grants then start trickling out in Feb, again, typically.

This year one of my favorite ICs, namely NIDA, has only just issued new Cycle I grants** this week, they hit RePORTER today.

March friggin 9th.

Six new R01 awards. Three K01, three K99s, one R15, one "planning grant" and three SBIR.

Even this is just a trickle, compared to what they should be funding for one of their major Cycles. I anticipate there will be a lot more coming out over the next couple of weeks so that they can (hopefully?) clear the decks for the Cycle II awards that are supposed to fund April 1.

I pity all those poor PIs out their waiting, just waiting, for their awards to fund. I cannot imagine why NIDA chooses to do this instead of at least trickling out the best score awards and the stuff they KNOW they are going to fund, way back in December***.
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*Statistically undifferentiable from never

**You can tell by clicking on the individual awards and you'll see that they (R01s anyway) end Nov 30 or Dec 31 for the initial round of funding. These are Cycle I, not upjumped Cycle II.

***Some ICs do tend to fund a few new awards in December, no matter what the status of Congress' activity on a budget.

7 responses so far

  • knx says:

    I am one of these poor bastards, still waiting on a K99 that had a council meeting in September, and was below the payline from the previous year. My PO says they expect final decisions and NOAs to go out "soon". This was after previously saying they would go out in November. Luckily my boss can carry me, but that's still 6 months of salary he shouldn't have had to pay (assuming I get the award).
    Kinda hilarious that they make such a big deal about applying in under 4 years, then make you wait a year and a half to find out if you got it.

  • potnia theron says:

    Corollary: if you are tempted to delay the start of your Cycle II or III grants, don't.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Why would you delay a start?

  • Pinko Punko says:

    One reason for delay would be so grant hasn't expired before tenure/promotion. But generally take when you can get

  • drugmonkey says:

    I can't see this being wise. Take the award at the first opportunity!

  • Ewan says:

    This is *so* me. I guess I was clueless that my "April 1" start date would be real, but I haven't even heard on funding yet - so the plans I am making for hiring etc are all horribly prone to collapsing, at least in my head..

  • drugmonkey says:

    April 1 starts are more consistently on time, IME. Things have usually normalized by then. So no need to get worried until the last week of March.

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