How The Continuing Resolution Affects The NIH Budget– And Your Grant Award

The NIH issued this announcement yesterday:

“The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including NIH, operates under a Continuing Resolution (CR) (H. J. Resolution 117) that was signed by President Obama as Public Law 112-175 on September 28, 2012.  The CR continues government operations through March 27, 2013 at the FY 2012 level plus 0.6 percent.

“Until FY 2013 appropriations are enacted, NIH will issue non-competing research grant awards at a level below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90% of the previously committed level). This is consistent with our practice during the CRs of FY 2006 – 2012. Upward adjustments to awarded levels will be considered after our FY 2013 appropriations are enacted but NIH expects institutions to monitor their expenditures carefully during this period.  All legislative mandates that were in effect in FY 2012 remain in effect under the CR, including the salary limitation set at Executive Level II of the Federal Pay Scale ($179,700), which was effective with grant awards with an initial Issue Date on or after December 23, 2011 (see NOT-OD-12-034 and NOT-OD-12-035).”

For grant applications that have just been reviewed, look for a delay (possibly lengthy) in funding decision pending the FY13 Appropriation (unless you are lucky enough to have a priority score well within the funding range.) For those in the gray zone (perhaps 7-16%, depending on your funding mechanism and your ESI status), you can expect a lengthy delay in the funding decision. Discuss your specific circumstances with your program officer.

What Do We Know About The NIH Appropriation in the FY11 Budget?

The government shutdown has been averted for now, and it looks like we may finally have a budget soon for FY11 (now that we are more than 6 months into the federal year.) So what do we know so far about the NIH appropriation?

A brief funding history: Between FY98 and FY03, the NIH budget doubled (from roughly $15 billion to about $30 billion.) Of that budget amount, about 85% is distributed as extramural grants. As a point of comparison, the NSF budget is just over $7B and the EPA grew under the current Administration from over $7B to just over $10B, but they are in line for cuts this year. After the NIH five-year doubling period (i.e., since FY03), the NIH has experienced level funding (sometimes less), when adjusted for inflation.

The FY10 NIH Appropriation was $31.3B.  The current Administration favors a budget increase for NIH in FY11—their NIH FY11 Appropriation recommendation last February was $32.25B (Click here to see the President’s FY11 NIH Budget Request, broken down by Institute). Last summer, both the House and Senate HHS Appropriation Subcommittees approved a $1B increase for NIH for FY11 (i.e., the same as the Administration’s budget request to Congress.)

Hopefully, the budget will pass soon and those funding levels will be finalized and made available to NIH. Meanwhile, those who submitted grants during Cycle II last year wait. Those with the highest scores have received their funding decisions—I have a client who was awarded an R01 competing renewal in a timely fashion. Others who were notified of the award had to wait to find out the award amount—I have another client who learned unofficially last fall from the Program Officer that her K01, which received a wonderful score, would be funded, but she only recently learned that it would be funded for four years (we were delighted with that outcome.) Yet another client with an R21 that has a borderline score still awaits her funding decision for a grant submitted last spring.

And what about FY12, which begins Oct 1? In February, the Administration recommended a 3% increase in the NIH budget, which when adjusted for inflation would represent level funding. However, that funding recommendation is extremely unlikely to clear the House this summer.