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A full-year budget and funding lines

In his blog post of a couple of weeks ago, NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes mentioned that we would soon be calculating the pay lines for the new fiscal year. I’m happy to announce that we’ve done the math and come up with our initial funding policy for FY 2019.

The art of reading tea leaves

As mentioned in last week’s blog, our current appropriations situation presents us with a conundrum. It is possible that we will see an increase in support for Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias research and perhaps some additional funds for our general allocation. Yet, for now, we are working with a continuing resolution that—if projected over the full year—reduces our budget by a small amount relative to last year.

Beginnings: Our first steps in making awards in FY 2018

The new fiscal year started on October 1, and we began it with hope in our hearts for continued good news on our budget. Our increased appropriations in FY 2017 allowed us our most generous funding lines in our general allocation in many years, along with a positive windfall for research in Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Still, we started the year again on a now-familiar continuing resolution, which holds our current funding to the FY 2017 level—at least until December 22.

Every year at NIA brings its own challenges. This one was special -- and how!

In recent years, we have scrambled to try to maintain a funding line by finding ways to stretch what seemed to be ever-shrinking resources. Then a trickle of new money arrived—beginning in FY 2014—targeted towards Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). In the following years, that trickle became a stream, and then a river. In FY 2017, it was a $400 million river.

At long last—a budget!

The wait was long—but the news is good! If you’ve been following events on Capitol Hill, you already know this. NIH has received a $2 billion increase in budget for this fiscal year, reflecting much-appreciated bipartisan support for biomedical research. NIA’s own budget received a monster $400 million boost for Alzheimer’s-related research, and our budget for other research areas increased at the same percentage rate as the NIH budget.

NIA funding line policy for 2017: First draft

The entire U.S. government, including NIA, is currently operating under an extension of a continuing resolution (CR) that will end on April 28…unless it is extended again, that is. A continuing resolution extends the previous year’s appropriations act, and the appropriations language within it, into the next fiscal year. It is usually minimally altered from the terms in the prior year. In other words, at this point in FY 2017, we’re operating with virtually the same budget we had in FY 2016.

What we're doing while we wait...

As many of you know, if you’ve been reading this blog, both the Senate and House appropriations committees separately have passed bills calling for large increases in funds to support research on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. In fact, we’ve used that advance information to prepare to receive these funds, should they come our way in final legislation. That’s why we’re in the process of publishing many funding opportunity announcements that will take advantage of these funds, and other funds we will have, once we know our final budget.

September pay line update

We have pay line updates! The big news is that the final career development awards pay line for the year is the 20th percentile. Of equal interest is the fact that we’re increasing our general allocation research grant pay line to the 11th percentile. We also have news on fellowships and small business awards.

NIA pay line recovers a bit

We have bumped the NIA general allocation up by one point all around. For most research grants—at least the ones under $500k a year—that pay line is now the 10th percentile. We are paying new investigator R01 applications to the 18th percentile and early-stage investigators can now breathe comfortably with the knowledge that their R01 applications are being paid to the princely 20th percentile!

Transparency and funding lines

About half of the 22 NIH Institutes no longer post a funding line. Of course, we at NIA do so much better—we post multiple funding lines! We are transparent, though. I’ve heard it said around the halls of NIH that a funding line is a crutch for staff, an easy way to indicate to investigators that their application could not be paid.

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