February 21, 2013

NIH Director Indicates Some Flexibility on Sequester Cut within Institute

By Brianna C. Fields

NIH Director Francis Collins announced to reporters yesterday after a tour of facilities with Senator Mikulski (D-MD), that he had informed each director of the 27 individual institutes and centers that they will have the authority to determine how to take the looming 5.1% ($1.5 billion) sequester cut to NIH scheduled to take effect on March 1st. Director Collins instructed institute directors “to figure out how to distribute that amongst the many difference kind of mechanisms, grants and centers, in terms of the intramural program, but everything will take a hit.” The NIH will attempt to prioritize things that seem most promising and critical to public health, although there is still expected to be across-the-board damage to virtually everything.

Senator Mikulski indicated that Congress is looking at March 27th when the continuing resolution (CR) expires for a potential sequester fix. According to the Senator, that would create a legislative vehicle “to solve the problem of sequester to get us beyond the CR and to give certainty for this year and then focus on fiscal year ’14 appropriations while the President hopes to seek, with other leadership, a grand bargain.”

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