An Important Message from NCI
We are entering one of the most difficult times in the history of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This was the sentiment of NCI's Board of Scientific Advisors (BSA) at their meeting on June 28. Federal deficits resulting from the events following 9/11 have contributed to unanticipated fiscal pressures that have placed a significant stress on resources assigned to support the country's biomedical research enterprise. The single biggest challenge - and the foremost driver of uncertainty for the biomedical research community - is the annual discretionary budget appropriation supporting NIH and, specifically, NCI. It is a topic of discussion at scientific meetings, in the editorial pages of peer-reviewed journals, and among researchers and administrators at academic centers across the country.
To better inform these ongoing discussions, the entire research community must clearly understand the process NCI uses to make strategic decisions regarding optimal investments in science with a goal of maintaining the momentum brought about by the doubling of the NIH budget. It is important to describe some of the basic factors that influence the budget, as well as the processes and procedures we have instituted to manage our resources.
What Happens to NCI's Appropriation once Congress Passes the Budget?
It has been unusual in recent years for Congress to reach a vote on the discretionary budget before the September 30 fiscal year (FY) deadline. As a result, NCI often begins the year spending at a rate based on the prior year's budget during a "continuing resolution." This has an impact on grantees, as resources are held back and only a percentage of the grant is paid until more clear information is obtained about the actual appropriation. Our grants management and budget staff work diligently during this period to serve both NCI and the institute's grantees. Read more