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Goal I: Effectively steward public resources

As a federal agency, NIA is responsible for ensuring that we efficiently and effectively use taxpayer funds to the ultimate benefit of all Americans. This requires, among other things, that we establish a solid foundation for discovery that includes informed planning and priority setting; consistent, expert review and management of grant applications; and a competent, flexible workforce that is capable of meeting the challenges presented by a rapidly changing scientific milieu. This charge also demands transparency within the limits imposed by privacy and the ethical conduct of research.

Goal I objectives:

Approach

I-1: Optimally manage research funds through careful planning and priority-setting, scientific review, and evaluation of investments.

  • Establish realistic scientific goals and priorities based on thorough understanding of the current state of the science. This will involve regular communication via multiple channels with our various constituencies, including the scientific, medical, and advocacy communities and private industry.

  • Optimize scientific review of funding applications. NIA receives thousands of applications for funding each year but can only fund a limited number of the applications it receives. We will continually identify and recruit expert reviewers and where necessary revise processes to ensure efficient, seamless grant review and award.

  • Regularly evaluate outcomes of major initiatives. Regular evaluation will ensure that our long-running initiatives continue to produce results consistent with our level of investment and will allow us to revise our strategies when our goals are not being met.

I-2: Encourage innovation across all areas of our mission.

Addressing the issues faced by our aging society will require focus, passion, and creativity. NIA is committed to supporting innovation in research and developing new ways of viewing and managing age-related changes at both the individual and societal levels.

A key driver of innovation is NIA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs (STTR). All NIA research divisions participate in these programs, which offer funding up to $2.5 million to commercialize products addressing aging and aging-related diseases and conditions, AD/ADRD, and the special challenges and needs of older Americans. The SBIR-STTR programs target early-stage research and development (R&D) and encompass a broad range of research topics and types, including translational and secondary R&D. All applicants are expected to develop, implement, and test the effectiveness of their products and services. NIA will:

  • Continue to support a robust SBIR/STTR program that attracts high-quality applications and supports innovators in commercializing their technologies.

  • Participate in trans-NIH initiatives to leverage new modalities, methodologies, and technologies to enhance health and wellness in the American population.

  • Develop and maintain initiatives that facilitate innovation in aging research, including initiatives that are relevant to AD/ADRD.

I-3: Ensure timely and accurate reporting of funding for AD/ADRD and in other scientific categories.

Our constituencies, including members of the American public, should be able to determine how we’re spending taxpayer funds and to feel confident in those figures’ accuracy and completeness. We will:

  • Work with NIH-level experts to optimize tools for categorizing research, including defining and refining disease-based categories, Minority Health/Health Disparities, Women’s Health, basic versus applied research, and others.

  • Ensure that reporting in all categories is complete, timely, and accurate.

I-4: Recruit and retain a highly qualified and diverse workforce.

Every member of NIA’s staff, from the Director to the newest student volunteer, makes an important contribution as we strive daily to turn discovery into health. To carry out our mission, we need staff who are expert, creative, dedicated, and energetic, and who represent a diversity of background and experience. We recognize the importance both of recruiting new staff with new skills and insights and retaining seasoned employees who have extensive experience and strong institutional memory. We will:

  • Continually assess and evaluate the institute’s evolving workforce needs and develop and implement plans to address those needs.

  • Provide training and other critical tools to enable NIA staff to conduct the nation’s business efficiently and effectively.

  • Support workflow efficiency by appropriate management of administrative burden on staff.

  • Regularly assess employee performance and provide opportunities for growth.

  • Maintain a safe and supportive working environment.

  • Take steps to ensure equality of opportunity for employment and advancement within NIA.

  • Facilitate succession planning to ensure continuity of operations.

I-5: Identify and effectively manage risks that may affect the research enterprise.

NIA’s risk management activities are designed to proactively identify and mitigate risks to help promote the achievement of our objectives, strategy, and mission. All staff work to identify risks across programs and operations so that appropriate actions can be taken to address them. NIA will continue to:

  • Develop and implement appropriate, cost effective management controls for results-oriented management.

  • Assess the adequacy of internal controls in programs and operations.

  • Identify needed improvements and take corresponding corrective action where appropriate.