2014 Congressional Appropriations Bill: The Effects on Research

 Institution Bulletin vol 4, issue 1National Institute of Health Logo

Under the auspices of bipartisanship, the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama passed the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill in mid-January to fund the U.S. government through September 30. Here are some of the increases in funding that were included in the bill:

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – $217 million above 2013’s fiscal year amount – as well as expansions for other government agencies responsible for researcher research
  • The Department of Defense saw surges in its medical research programs including $200 million for the Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program, $125 million for Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health studies, and $120 million for breast cancer research
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) obtained a $1 billion increase over its 2013’s fiscal year allotment (albeit this is below the pre-Sequester 2012 budget level).

Another highlight of the bill is the expansion of public access to a larger portion of Federally-funded research – a mandate to which only the NIH was previously bound. Under the new provision, any research budgeted at $100 million or more would have to be made available to the public online within 1 year of being published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Iowa’s Senator Tom Harkin (D) was a key player in getting the original NIH access put into law. The Senator told the Washington Post, “Expanding this policy to public health and education research is a step toward a more transparent government and better science.”

Despite the bill’s escalation of funding – which will allow current programs to continue and permit approximately 385 new research studies – many in the investigative field criticized the amount as being insufficient, especially since the 2013 sequester gutted many competitive research grants and forced deep staffing cuts. Many believe that government-funded research remains a crucial part of the drug and device development industry. For example, NIH endowments routinely provide funding for those types of research considered too risky or unconventional for private investors.

 

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