Science Funding In The FY11 Budget (NIH, NSF, CDC, FDA, NIST, DOE)

We now know that NIH will receive $30.7B for FY11. While this funding level is hardly a dream scenario for research scientists, given the current economic situation we are all heaving a collective sigh of relief (for now.) Once you have wiped the sweat from your brow, your next thought may be to wonder how other science agencies fared in FY11.

Like NIH, other science agencies were spared deep cuts for the time being. Jennifer Zeitzer, director of legislative relations for Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, is quoted as saying, “Considering the overall level of cuts, the impact of the federal science agencies of interest to FASEB was fairly minimal.” How minimal? Here are the numbers:

NSF $6.9B for FY11 ($53M less than FY10, $551 less than the Administration’s recommendation for FY11, $307M above the House recommendation.)

CDC $5.66B for FY11 ($730M below FY10, $681M above the House recommendation.)

FDA $2.452B for FY11 (4% above FY10, 14% above the House recommendation.)

NIST $752M for FY11 ($55M higher than the level proposed by the House)

Department of Energy’s Office of Science $4.88B for FY11 (up $866M over the House level.)

DHHS agencies must submit spending details within 30 days of the enactment of an appropriation bill (NSF within 60 days), so we will know within the next month or two how the agencies will apportion the FY11 monies for the remaining six months of the federal year.

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.