Category Archives: Federal Budget

NIH cancels study sections

NIH has cancelled all study sections this week and next. This means that no study sections will be meeting before October 25.

By cancelling all CSR study section meetings from October 1 through October 18, NIH:

  • Cancelled over 170 meetings
  • Notified over 4000 reviewers
  • Postponed review of over 8600 applications*

All October application deadlines are being rescheduled to November.

*Preliminary NIH analysis.


Debt ceiling deadline looms in October

The U.S. Treasury has announced that it expects the debt ceiling to be reached in mid-October at which point the country will have reached the limit of its borrowing authority and will not be able to pay all of its bills. The looming October deadline is earlier than previously anticipated and the path forward is unclear. Treasure Secretary Jacob Lew has sent a letter to Congress encouraging action to extend the debt ceiling in order to avoid default. President Obama has stated that he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling while Speaker John Boehner says that he is preparing for a show down and intends to “leverage the political process” and demand “cuts and reforms that are greater than the increase in the debt limit.” Speaker Boehner has not made statements regarding specific cuts and reforms that will be requested.

This news leaves many government agencies guessing as to how to plan for the coming year – and beyond. Their uncertainty translates to an increasingly competitive federal funding landscape. The NIH has referred to 2013 as the “darkest ever” year for the agency and they continue to fund fewer of the grant applications that they receive.

A recent article in the Baltimore Sun described the impacts that the budget uncertainty is having on research as agencies face increasing scrutiny in how funds are distributed. Dr. Daniel Ford, vice dean for clinical investigation at Johns Hopkins Medicine, said during an interview for the article, “I have never seen a year where there is going to be such a need for advocacy around NIH funding.”

AAAS Appropriations Update for FY 2014

FY 2014 Appropriations So Far: A Roundup

With the Congressional session resuming next week, The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has put together an overview of where appropriations stand so far, with an agency-by-agency summary for the largest federal R&D funders including a full set of charts and graphs. The full recap can be downloaded here (PDF).

The current status of R&D appropriations is summarized in the charts (from the AAAS report).



Early on in the appropriations cycle, the House targeted a few areas in particular for cuts or constraints, among them low-carbon energy and natural resources. At the same time, other areas like defense and agriculture would be spared deeper cuts. So far, this approach has been borne out in R&D funding. With the Senate continuing to ignore sequestration, the appropriations process has resulted in some areas of agreement, but other areas of clear divergence. Continue reading on the R&D Budget and Policy site (

NIST Announces Plan to Sponsor First Cybersecurity FFRDC

To help the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) address industry’s needs most efficiently, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced its intention to sponsor its first Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC).

The FFRDC mechanism will allow a nonprofit organization to support the NCCoE, which was established in partnership with the state of Maryland and Montgomery County in February 2012. Today’s announcement in the Federal Register* is the first of three required, and will be followed by a solicitation for proposals to manage the FFRDC in the fall of 2013. This will be the first FFRDC solely dedicated to enhancing the security of the nation’s information systems.

The NCCoE is a public-private collaboration that helps businesses secure their data and digital infrastructure by bringing together experts from industry, government and academia to find practical solutions for today’s most pressing cybersecurity needs. Last week, the center announced formal partnerships with 11 private industries.**

Read entire article here.

Will Business Step In to End a Sequester-Driven Research Funding Gap?

By now we’re all painfully aware of the federal government’s across-the-board cutbacks on discretionary spending–better known as the sequester–and how it has imperiled publicly funded scientific research in the U.S. The only thing less clear than the sequester’s long-term impact on academia, industry and the economy is how to end its austerity measures, which could last through 2021.


A group of science and technology pundits on Tuesday posited some potential approaches to overcoming the sequester during a teleconference hosted by the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies (C-PET). Based on their suggestions, however, we’ll be living with the current budget cuts for some time.

A predominant question is how to make up for shortfalls in funding for early stage research. Industry, which has long benefitted from publicly funded research, could be encouraged to make up for the government’s lack of early stage funding by investing more in the R&D it ultimately uses to sell its products, C-PET president Nigel Cameron noted during Tuesday’s teleconference. Apple, which ended its most recent earnings period with $145 billion in cash, “is sitting on more money than the federal government spends on all of its discretionary R&D combined,” Cameron added. In essence, industry could, for a time, begin to freight the bill for earlier stages of the R&D process, not necessarily a significant burden as most investment occurs later on when bringing products to market.

Read entire article here.