National Science Foundation: Funding Update

Recently the House of Representatives approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) bill by a 321-87 vote and the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the bill yesterday. The CJS bill proposes funding allocations for the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other related agencies.  For NSF specifically, the House allocated approximately $7.4 billion, a $232 million increase from FY2014 and $149 million above the President’s budget request. The Senate proposed $7.25 billion, which is $83 million above FY2014 and level with the President’s budget request.

The Senate bill includes report language commending the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) for their work on open access to federal research and expects the majority of federal agencies to implement plans to increase public access to federally funded scientific research by early 2015. Additionally, both bills included report language calling on OSTP, in coordination with the National Institutes of Health and other agencies to coordinate and create a roadmap for medical imaging research.

During the next month the Senate FY15 CJS bill will move to the floor for consideration by the full Senate. Following votes on this legislation, the House and Senate will resolve the differences between the two versions of the CJS bills.

 

AADR Urges Committee to Vote No on the FIRST Act (H.R. 4186)

Yesterday, AADR sent a letter to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee voicing our opposition to the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act (H.R. 4186).  This legislation proposes policy changes and authorizes funding for the National Science Foundation.  Many members of the scientific community, including the National Science Board, voiced opposition to the bill because it would, “…impose constraints that would compromise NSF’s ability to fulfill its statutory purpose. Some elements of the bill would also impose significant new burdens on scientists that would not be offset by gains to the nation.”  Specifically, this legislation also proposes to make changes to merit review process and includes language about public access policies. AADR is concerned about the FIRST Act for the following reasons:

  • The authorizing levels fail to keep pace with inflation;
  • Significantly cuts the authorizing level for social sciences and humanities research by 22%; and
  • Proposes new requirements for the grant making process.

Sam Stein from the Huffington Post wrote an article entitled, “The Next Frontier in the War Over Science,” which describes the concerning components of the legislation.

Despite our efforts and those of the broader scientific community, late yesterday evening the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology approved the FIRST Act (H.R. 4186) by a vote along party lines. Any amendments that sought to strike the problematic sections related to the grant making process were not approved by the committee. Also, an amendment further reducing the authorization for social, behavioral and economics research by $50 million was approved by a vote of 20-15.

The bill is now headed to the floor of the House. At this time it is unclear when it will be considered by the full House of Representatives. As this legislation moves forward, AADR will continue to work with the scientific community to ensure preservation of the merit review process and robust authorizing levels for the National Science Foundation.

 

President Obama’s FY15 Budget Request

Yesterday, President Obama presented his FY15 budget request to Congress. This budget adheres to the caps or the overall amount of funding available for discretionary spending as dictated by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 and proposes cuts and reforms to make room for, “investments in priority areas such as research, clean energy, early learning and ending homelessness.” The budget released yesterday only includes top line funding levels. Additional detailed information is expected to be released later this week.

Specifically the FY15 President’s budget proposes the following:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH), $30.2 billion in total budget authority, an approximate 1% increase over the FY14 level of $30 billion
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), $397.13 million, a $1.5 million or 0.3% decrease from the FY14 appropriated level of $398.65 million or a .01% increase from the FY14 final enacted level of $397.102 million
  • National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, $657.47 million, a $24.2 million or 3.6% increase over the FY14 level of $633.27 million
  • National Science Foundation, $7.255 billion, a 1.2% or $83 million increase from the FY14 level of $7.171 billion
  • Agency for Health Research and Quality $334 million in base discretionary authority, a 8.2% or $30 million decrease from the FY14 level of $364 million.

The President is also proposing increased funding for research through the, “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative.” This program if enacted by Congress would provide an additional $28 billion for non defense discretionary programs paid for via tax reforms and changes in mandatory programs. This proposal would include an additional $970 million for the National Institutes of Health, “to increase the number of grants funded and invest in the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative (BRAIN).” At this time it is unclear if this proposal would boost funding to other institutes, like NIDCR at the NIH. Also, it is important to note, these proposed targeted increases included in the “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative,” are not included in the aforementioned agency funding proposals outlined above.

The President’s budget is a document that outlines the administration’s funding priorities for the upcoming fiscal year and Congress as the authority to approve, reject or modify the recommendations included in the budget.

AADR will continue to advocate for Congress to provide $32 billion for NIH and $425
million for NIDCR in the FY15 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriation Bill.

For additional information click the links below:
Office of Management and Budget Overview
Department of Health and Human Services Budget Appendix
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Congressional Justification

FY14 Appropriations Bill Proposes Funding for NIH, NIDCR and other agencies

Late last night the House and Senate Appropriations Committee released the Consolidated
Appropriations Act of 2014,
which provides proposed funding levels and report language for the remainder of fiscal year 2014.  Congress still needs to approve and vote on this legislation in order for it to become law.

First of all, thank you to all our advocates who responded to the AADR Action Alerts, contacted your Members of Congress, invited them to your campuses, wrote editorials and other activities that heightened their awareness of the importance of a strong biomedical research enterprise for America.  Your efforts were noted and against all odds, the Consolidated Appropriations Act contains a Labor-Health and Human Services (L-HHS) appropriations section.

Specifically, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 proposes to fund the National Institutes of Health at $29.926 billion and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at $398.7 million, which is nearly a one billion dollar increase for NIH and an $11.7 million increase from the FY13 post-sequestration level for NIDCR. However, this is still $766 million below FY12 for NIH and $11.6 million below for NIDCR.  It is important to note that the approximate one billion increase provided to the NIH, “…(was) generally distributed proportionately among NIH Institutes and Centers.” The other additional amounts were added to the National Institute of Aging in recognition of Alzheimer’s research and also to other institutes in anticipation of research in connection to the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative.

Additionally, the explanatory statement accompanying the bill includes report language
encouraging the director of the NIH to make the development of alternative dental restorative materials a high priority.

“Dental Materials Research-The United Nations (UN) Environmental Programme, International Negotiating Committee completed deliberations in January 2013 on a global legally binding treaty on mercury. The UN agreement contains provisions for the reduction in the use of dental amalgam, as a mercury- added product, and calls for increased dental research into alternative materials. Given the global commitment to reduce all uses of mercury, the NIH Director is expected to make the development of alternative dental restorative materials a high priority.” (Joint Explanatory Statement, Division H-Depts. Of Labor-HHS-Education pg. 38)

AADR also advocates and tracks funding for a number of institutions.  Click here to view a detailed funding chart.

Other Important Provisions

  • The agreement proposes $32 million for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) oral health training program. Within the $32 million no less than $8 million is dedicated for general dentistry programs and not less than $8 million for pediatric dentistry programs. This section also prohibits health workforce funds to be used for section 340G-1, the Alternative Dental Health Care Providers Demonstration
    Program.
  • The agreement includes funding for the early childhood caries initiative within the
    Indian Health Services.  According to the report language, “The Service is encouraged to work with the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and to consult with Tribes about increasing preventive dental care for children by bringing dentists and hygienists into BIE schools. The Service should continue to make significant strides towards completion of
    electronic dental records. The Service is encouraged to explore establishing a centralized credentialing system to address workforce needs similar to those of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, to consider a pilot program for the credentialing of dentists, and to propose funding for fiscal year 2015.”
    The Centers for Disease Control and
    Prevention (CDC) programs are directed to actively coordinate with the
    Institutes and Centers of the NIH to identify scientific gaps to accelerate
    understanding of diseases and their prevention knowledge across NIH and CDC
    research portfolios.
  • In accordance with a longstanding tradition funding is not directed to any specific disease research area. The NIH is expected to base its funding decisions only on scientific opportunities and the peer review process.
  • NIH is expected to maintain funding support for basic biomedical research.
  • The NIH Director shall provide a report on Core Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data within 180 days of enactment to the House and Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • The NIH Director and IC Directors are directed to work with the other HHS operating divisions to establish a more systematic means of disseminating research results.
  • The NIH is directed to examine and produce a report on how the post peer review priority setting process, resource allocation process and the portfolio evaluation data and information to ensure that the priority setting process provides decision makers with answers to key questions such as: How the proposed activity
    significantly advances the body of biomedical science; How the proposed activity could contribute to expanding knowledge to improve human health; The relationship and impact of the proposed
    activity to the program goals and objectives; and how the proposed activity could impact the overall research portfolio of the NIH and the national research institute or center involved.
  • The NIH Director shall produce a report regarding the implementation of strategic planning. This report will include information about the prioritization process between rare and neglected diseases while also maintaining a focus balance between translational and basic bio-medical science; and how the plan is harmonized across the NIH ICs to ensure a balanced portfolio that is free of unnecessary duplication and takes advantage of cross-cutting bio-medical research.

For more Information: Click here to read the omnibus appropriations bill and here to read the joint explanatory statement.

What is Next? Today the House will vote on a short term continuing resolution funding the federal government through Jan. 18 to give Congress more time to vote on the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. AADR will keep you informed as this process moves forward.

 

Student Researchers Call for Federal Science Funding

On June 1st, the organization with over 10,000 graduate students known as Stand With Science (SWS) published an op-ed in The Journal of Science Policy & Governance, highlighting the need student engagement and advocacy for the protection of science funding.  Following an explanation of the sequester and its impact to the R&D industry as a whole, SWS discusses funding cuts that impact the student community:  “We as graduate students must be concerned about cuts to all science funding, as all cuts to science are cuts to our future livelihoods as much as they are cuts to our nation’s competitiveness.” They follow with a subsequent call to action to the research community as a whole:  “We believe the roll of the scientist should not be limited to the laboratory, and that [we] have a responsibility to contribute to important policy debates concerning science and science funding.”

See the article here.

AADR Joins Call for Preservation of NSF Merit Review

Last week, Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, released a discussion draft of anticipated legislation entitled the High Quality Research Act. While the title appears supportive of research, the text conveys an intent to alter the well established  peer review system of the National Science Foundation (NSF).  The bill establishes new criteria for the awarding of NSF grants:

(1) is in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science;

(2) is the finest quality, is ground breaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large; and

(3) is not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies. Continue reading

President’s FY14 Budget Proposes Flat Funding of NIH

Today, President Obama released his much anticipated budget request for Fiscal Year 2014. The President’s Budget Request (PBR) contained $31.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health or a 1.5% increase over the Fiscal Year 2012 level. The administration uses FY12 as a baseline, given that the FY13 budget was set at the FY12 level for the entire year. Reductions of roughly 5.1% will be taken from the FY12/FY13 budget level in most cases. The PBR largely ignores sequestration, as most numbers provided for FY13 are at the pre-sequestration level. In the administration’s funding plan, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research is provided $411.5 million or 0.4% more than the FY12 level. The PBR states that it will support 9,400 new and competing grants, an increase of roughly 8%. The increase will be funded largely by reducing continuation awards by 1%, reducing inflationary increases to grants, and reducing the size of awards. Continue reading

White House Outlines State Impacts from Sequestration

For many lawmakers, and much of the general public, the across-the-board budget cuts that will be set into motion this Friday (see Budget Control Act of 2011, American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012) are somewhat of an abstract concept. In an effort to bring increased attention and pressure to budget sequestration, the White House has released state-level programmatic impact statements. The fact sheets provide only a sample of the reductions ahead. However, cuts to research are included in the Nationwide Impacts section of each fact sheet.

White House Fact Sheets on Sequestration Impact (By State)

[Excerpts]

  • NIH research – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would be forced to delay or halt vital scientific projects and make hundreds of fewer research awards. Since each research award supports up to seven research positions, several thousand personnel could lose their jobs. Many projects would be difficult to pursue at reduced levels and would need to be cancelled, putting prior year investments at risk. These cuts would delay progress on the prevention of debilitating chronic conditions that are costly to society and delay development of more effective treatments for common and rare diseases affecting millions of Americans.
  • NSF research – The National Science Foundation (NSF) would issue nearly 1,000 fewer research grants and awards, impacting an estimated 12,000 scientists and students and curtailing critical scientific research.

Budget Stakeholders Meet, as Leaders Discuss Sequestration Prospects

Rep. Paul Ryan discuses budget sequestration prospects

Yesterday, January 29th, advocates for non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs within the federal budget gathered for a town hall meeting to discuss strategy for further engaging Congress on the impending across-the-board spending reductions.

As mentioned on this site and many others, in just a few weeks budget sequestration will severely reduce NDD and defense spending. The NDD stakeholders group represents hundreds of impacted issue areas from law enforcement to education to medical research. Continue reading

Agencies Provide Details on FY13 Budget Proposal

On Monday, President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal. As the week progressed, federal agency officials began to release details of the proposal, which is drawing criticism from many organizations in the health and research communities. The President’s budget proproses to freeze funding for NIH at the FY12 level of $30.7 billion. In a budget briefing on Wednesday (2/15), NIH Director Frances Collins stated that despite the freeze in funding, the President’s budget proposal would allow for a 7% increase in FY13 (over FY12) in new and competing research grants. Dr. Collins stated that the increase is made possible by increased turnover in grants, largely do to the fact that “science is moving more quickly” than has traditionally been the case. The decrease in the duration of grants coupled with a 1% FY13 reduction to noncompeting grants was mentioned as the primary drivers of the proposed increase in new and competing grants. Dr. Collins acknowledged that, when adjusted for inflation, purchasing power at NIH has been in decline since 2003.

Some items of note from the NIH FY13 Budget Proposal:

  • The NIDCR budget is slated for a $2 million decrease to $408 million.
  • Funds are sought from the Public Health Prevention Fund (part of the Affordable Care Act) to make a significant increase in Alzheimer’s research.
  • The ratio of funding between basic and applied research (54% basic, 46% applied) remains constant -as has been the case for several years.
  • The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) would receive an 11% increase to $639 million, which includes significant funding ($50 million) for the Cures Acceleration Network.

Other noteworthy budget information:

  • The overall Health and Human Services budget request is 8.5% lower than last year.
  • Oral health funding within CDC, Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, is essentially the same after a $9,000 increase to $14.653 million.
  • The request for the National Science Foundation is up 5% to $7.373 billion.
  • The request for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is up by roughly 1% to $408.8 million. However, the proposal cuts investigator-initiated researcg grants by more than 31%,  and comparative effectiveness research grants by 41%.

The President’s Budget Request marks the beginning of the budget process on the Hill. It is clear that the FY13 appropriations process is off to a rocky start for health and much of the research community.