In an attempt to improve accessibility and citation of biomedical research data and grants, the NIH is asking the scientific community for input. As part of the NIH’s Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Initiative, it seeks to improve large information management for future use through input received from a request for information (RFI). In the RFI, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) posed the idea of developing a data catalog specifically for biomedical research, similar to the NIH’s PubMed system for scientific publications. The vision is for the data catalog is for it to be different than a data repository in that it would improve searching, citation, and consistency as well as create links to the actual data location, grant, publications, and software used.
Find the link to the actual RFI here. The deadline for comment is June 25th.
View this Huffington Post video explaining the impact of cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Sylvia Burwell, Director of the Office of Management and Budget
On May 29, 2013, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Sylvia Burwell, circulated a memorandum to all federal departments and agencies regarding the development of the FY2015 budget that will be submitted to Congress next year. The research community should be especially bolstered by the following sentence in the second paragraph of the memorandum:
“The 2015 Budget should continue to build on the President’s plan, by reducing spending on lower priority programs in order to create room for effective investments in areas critical to economic growth and job creation, including education, innovation, infrastructure, and research and development.” Continue reading
As we’ve previously blogged, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers is advancing a plan that increases security expenditures while maintaining the $967 billion cap on discretionary spending set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities chart below captures, Mr. Rogers achieves an increase for security related budget items by decreasing non-security funding by $45 billion below their BCA limit, resulting in a new round of severe cuts for many agencies. The House appropriations plan has already been met with a veto threat from President Obama. Additionally, the Senate is moving forward in a very different manner. Nonetheless, the House proposal is certainly cause for alarm.
On Monday, the NIH released a fact sheet outlining the impact of the sequestration on its operations and plans for FY2013. The sequester, initiated on March 1, 2013, requires that the NIH slash its FY2013 budget by either 5% or $1.55 billion. These budgetary changes will be applied across all 27 Institutes and Centers of the NIH, significantly affecting every aspect of medical research, including that of the NIDCR.
The major numbers projected to change due to the sequester, outlined by the fact sheet, are staggering. Specifically, the NIH estimates that there will be approximately 700 fewer competitive research project grants awarded, taking application funding rates down to one in six submissions. There will also be a significant defunding of grants for existing noncompeting research projects, with an NIH average decrease by 4.7%. Similarly, recipients of the National Research Service Award will see stagnation in their stipends for the budgetary year, further de-incentivizing proposals. Continue reading
This fall may be the last real opportunity that advocates and ultimately lawmakers have to replace the budget sequester with a balanced alternative. After Labor Day, Congress will return to DC faced with both the impending start of a new fiscal year and need for the debt limit to be increased. It is near certain that the 13 spending bills that fund federal government operations will not be ready by the start of the fiscal year on October 1st, so Congress will have a few weeks in September to put together a stopgap measure to prevent a shutdown. At nearly the same time, Congress will have to approve an increase in the debt limit so that the government can continue to meet its obligations.
The summer lead up to the post-Labor Day legislative session will be a crucial time for advocates to gather stories on the impacts of sequestration on individuals and institutions. As the impacts of sequestration begin to surface, members of the AADR community are encouraged to share stories. Members are encouraged to share stories with AADR Government Affairs via email at email@example.com, or through the NDD United online form, or through the White House online form, or ideally through all three mechanisms.
The budget debacle in Washington known as sequestration remains a mystery to much of the public. It’s not surprising given that — up until a few months ago — many senior policymakers in DC were holding firm to a belief that a last minute budget deal would be reached and the policy would never be implemented. Even today, nearly three months after the President was forced to sign an order setting the sequester into motion, federal agencies are struggling to finalize their plans for implementation. As a result, many of the consequences of sequestration remain unclear to those who will be directly impacted. What is clear is that, without a public push to develop an alternative, Congress is not likely to change course in time for the upcoming fiscal year.
A coalition of advocates representing communities impacted by sequestration continues to work on public and legislative messaging, as well as to capture the real impacts of the policy. The coalition, NDD (Non-Defense Discretionary) United, now consists of over 3,200 groups -including AADR. As mentioned on the coalition’s website, NDD programs are core functions of government and now exist at historic lows as a percentage of GDP, yet they continue to serve as targets for budget reduction. Today, NDD United released a short video that captures our current budget dilemma in a “just the basics” format. Groups and individuals are encouraged to share the video with their personal and professional contacts. A base level of understanding among the general public would be a significant step forward in the campaign to develop a well balanced alternative.
During the Spring 2013 semester, AADR government affairs efforts were supported by Waseem Khaleel -a native of Iraq and now double alumnus of Georgetown University (GU). Waseem, a graduate of the GU MS program in Biomedical Science Policy and Advocacy, was an active advocate over the past four months. He blogged on policy developments — particularly as related to the application of the sequestration provisions in the Budget Controll Act of 2011 — and became a regular in the halls of Congress. He met with several staffers to highlight the importance of federal investments in biomedical research, as well as to discuss a separate project aimed at increasing testing for diabetes.
In just a few years, Waseem has undertaken a rather incredible journey. Much of his youth was spent in Baghdad, where he witnessed the effects of war firsthand. Recognized as a promising student, he was awarded a scholarship to pursue undergraduate studies at Georgetown University. He earned a perfect grade point average in his final semester of graduate studies at GU and is now finishing a second internship with a medical imaging organization while seeking a permanent role in the government affairs community. Waseem hopes to one day apply the knowledge attained through his various educational and professional experiences to serve his community back home.
On behalf of the larger oral health research community, the AADR staff congratulates Waseem on his second graduation in as many years and thanks him for his service.
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
The Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations process is proving to be just as tumultuous as its predecessor. The House of Representatives is moving forward with a $967 billion spending plan for FY14, which is $91 billion less than the Senate’s target. The difference is attributed to the fact that the Senate Appropriations Chair, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), is using a target that assumes that the sequester will be repealed.
Digging a bit deeper into the House majority’s blueprint, one finds that security-related line-items are maintained roughly at current levels while non-security items are reduced by approximately 17%. The FY14 House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations allocation, which funds NIH and a host of other domestic agencies, is 22% below the current level. While many, on both sides of the aisle, view the House framework as untenable; the same was once thought of a budget sequester. In just a few months, a policy that was considered unthinkable by the most senior officials in government has become a reality. It stands to reason that the new House plan for FY14 should be taken quite seriously. Continue reading