Tuesday, May 27, 2003

I had heard some scuttlebutt through the grapevine that people with NIH grants were going to lose six months of their grants. Disturbing news, to be sure. More disturbing to find out that it's actually and verifiably true.

The Office of Management and Budget (read: outgoing Mitch Daniels) has ordered the NIAID (a division of NIH) to fund $232 million for procurement of 25 million doses of a new anthrax vaccine. This is even though NIAID director Anthony Fauci says,

Right from the get-go I said there's going to be misunderstandings because we at the NIH don't procure.
Congress originally agreed and didn't include vaccine procurement as part of NIAID's budget request, without offering a substitute. So the OMB stuck it back in.

That outlay alone represents over 6% of NIAID's annual budget. It's also about 43% of the magnitude of the part of NIAID's budget for new and renewed research grants. To juggle the money around, the NIH is now forced to cut new grant durations from 4 to 3 1/2 years and resturucture existing contracts.

To sum up, basic research has been slashed because the Shrubbery was too lazy to fund their Department of Homeland Security (who should be doing the procurement) properly. But hey, jeopardizing America's future health by cutting funding for other infectious diseases is a small price to pay, as long as big stockholders get their precious tax cut.

UPDATE: changed "is going to get slashed" to "has been slashed". The order was that procurement should be done this fiscal year.

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