Advocacy Updates

Budgets, Stand for Science Campaign, and NIH policy changes


By Kelly Dunn, PhD

Update on Budget Appropriations

The House Appropriations Committee has been working on FY2015 allocations, which are required by the Bipartisan Budget Act of January 2013 to be held at $1.014 trillion dollars. This committee approved a bill allocating a 3.3% increase in funds from the FY2014 level for the National Science Foundation, and allocated $1 billion in funds to the Labor-HHS-Education committee that oversees NIH funding. This level represents a 0.7% increase in funds to that committee compared to FY2014, which means it is unlikely that NIH will see a large increase in funding since it would have to come at the expense of other programs also governed by that committee (source). Since the NIH's Biomedical Research and Development Price Index estimated that the cost of doing research will increase by 1.9% in FY2015, the proposed 0.7% budget increase may not be sufficient to cover rising costs in general, much less support new research. And although President Obama's FY2015 budget proposal does include an additional $211 million for NIH and a 1% increase to NSF funding (though NASA's budget is reduced by 1% overall), the ultimate fate of this proposal is uncertain since it exceeds the congressionally-mandated spending limit by $56 billion.

Stand for Science Campaign

APA is continuing to advocate and protect scientific funding for research. The newly launched “Stand for Science” campaign is continuing to advocate against congressional attacks on social and behavioral funding. Across the country, researchers have been inviting their congressional leaders to their laboratories, to demonstrate the value of research funding towards promoting socially-relevant outcomes and to advocate for increased financial support for research. Learn about recent efforts and find out how to become involved.

Changes to NIH policies

NIH is continuing to make changes to the grant submission process. The first prominent change includes relaxing the resubmission process by allowing researchers to immediately submit as new (A0) a grant that was not funded following a resubmission (A1). Previous policies prevented such a grant from being submitted as a new grant for several years, so this new policy is expected to decrease the number of meritorious grants that are not funded after a resubmission, and increase the potential for funding in new investigators who are trying to establish lines of research.

The second change will be a new biosketch format that is designed to emphasize research accomplishments rather than just publications, with a specific focus on discoveries and the role an individual played in research findings. The purpose of this change is to enable reviewers to glean a better understanding of an applicant's ability to conduct the proposed research. NIH is currently pilot testing this new approach with expectations that it will be uniformly implemented in early 2015.