e-Public Policy Update - February 2012

Summary of the President’s FY 2013 Budget Request
On February 13, the President released the Administration’s FY 2013 budget request to Congress.  Highlights of research and development and public health funding proposed for federal agencies include:

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

  • NIH is level funded at $30.860 billion; Funding for research project grants (RPGs) declines by 0.2 percent. The number of RPGs increases by 672 over FY 2012 but outyear inflationary allowances for grants are discontinued and noncompeting grants are reduced by 1 percent below FY 2012; competing grant budgets will be negotiated to avoid growth in the average award size. The overall estimated RPG success rate is 19 percent. Training stipends increase by 2 percent but there is a 0.4 percent decrease in training program funding.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  • CDC is funded at $5.1 billion, a decrease of $664 million, or a loss of 11.6 percent.    Some of the funding from the Prevention Fund is targeted for CDC Programs.
  • Emerging, Zoonotic, and other Infectious Diseases – The FY 2013 budget request includes $331.2 million for emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases, $27 million above the FY 2012 level. $51.8 million of the total is from the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF). The overall amount provides increases for National Healthcare Safety Network and food safety activities. CDC will use PPHF resources to support two key areas: building state epidemiology and laboratory capacity and implementing evidence-based strategies to prevent healthcare-associated infections.
  • The FY 2013 budget request provides $1.3 billion for CDC’s biodefense and emergency preparedness activities. CDC is one of few federal agencies providing continuous surveillance; detection; and response for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, as well as other crises, outbreaks, and epidemics. CDC fulfills this critical responsibility by supporting state and local health departments, safeguarding deadly toxins, managing the Strategic National Stockpile, creating national tracking and surveillance systems, and overseeing a national laboratory network. The FY 2013 budget represents a decrease of $54.3 million below FY 2012 level, reflecting reprioritization of threats for the Strategic National Stockpile and elimination of funding for the Academic Centers for Public Health Preparedness. It also reflects an adjustment for programmatic operating costs to provide oversight, guidance, and management of the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

  • The FDA budget authority of $4.5 billion increases by $11.5 million but total resources for FDA rise by $654 million (17 percent) because 98 percent is from user fees which increase by $643 million over FY 2012.  Of the FDA’s total budget, 45 percent would come from user fees.  The budget includes $10 million in new resources for imported food safety and medical products. The budget includes a $3.5 million increase for medial countermeasures and $17.7 million for FDA’s biodefense laboratory.

US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Research

  • $1.3 billion for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) an $82 million or 6 percent decrease from FY 2012
  • $325 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) a $60 million or 23 percent increase from FY 2012 to support peer-reviewed competitive grants. 
    • $2.2 million for integrated food safety research
    • $5.2 million for the NIFA Fellows Program to directly support graduate education in AFRI priority research areas.
    • $3.2 million increase for AFRI Foundational Research Programs
      • $1.1 billion for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) a $4 million or .3 percent increase from FY 2012
      • $1 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) an $8 million or .7 percent decrease over FY 2012

National Science Foundation (NSF)

  • $7.3 billion total, a 4.8 percent or $340 million increase over the estimated FY 2012 level
  • $6 billion for Research and Related Activities a 5 percent or $294 million increase over FY 2012 estimate
  • $734 million for the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) a 3 percent or $21 million increase over FY 2012 estimate
  • $876 million for Education and Human Resources a 5.6 percent  or $47 million increase over FY 2012 estimate
  • $196 million for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction, a .5 percent reduction below the estimated FY 2012 level. This funding is to continue construction on the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and other NSF funded research platforms. 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Research

  • $8.3 billion total, a $105 million or 1.2 percent decrease
  • $807 million for Science and Technology activities, a $13 million or 1.6 percent increase over FY 2012

Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science

  • $5 billion for the Office of Science, a $118 million or 2 percent increase over FY 2012
  • $625 million for Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program, a $16 million or approximately a 2.5 percent increase from FY 2012
  • $1.8 billion for Basic Energy Sciences (BES) a $111.5 million or 6.7 percent increase
  • $350 million for Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) a 27 percent or $75 million increase over FY 2012

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Health Affairs

  • $166 million for the Office of Health Affairs, a $0.99 million or 0.6% percent decrease from FY 2012
  • BioWatch, an environmental surveillance system that provides early detection of biological agents, is funded at $125.3 million, a 9.7% increase above FY 2012
  • The National Biosurveillance Integration Center is funded at $8 million, decreased from $12 million in FY 2012
  • The budget includes $10 million which will support research needs related to biosecurity and the proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. DHS will conduct an assessment of the BSL-4 facility, including cost, safety and alternatives to the current plan.

Additional information on the FY 2013 budget can be found on the public policy website at: Research and Development Funding for FY 2013

ASM Meets with Congressional Staff to Support Basic Research at USDA
In February, the ASM, as a member of the AFRI Coalition, met with Congressional staff to discuss funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the USDA’s competitive grants program, housed within the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA.) Coalition members met with majority and minority staff from the House and Senate agriculture committees and agriculture appropriations subcommittees. Discussed was the importance of basic research and competitive grants funding as well as some discussion about authorizing AFRI at an appropriate level in the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill.  AFRI is currently authorized at $700 million and in FY 2012 was funded at $264 million.  

Public and Scientific Affairs Board Meeting

The ASM Public and Scientific Affairs Board (PSAB) held its annual board meeting at ASM Headquarters on February 9 and 10.  The following policymakers attended and participated in the meeting:

Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, presented information about microbiology programs at NIAID including antimicrobial research, influenza and H5N1 research issues.  He also discussed the federal budget implications for NIH and NIAID and management options that are being considered.

Sally J. Rockey, Ph.D., Deputy Director for Extramural Research, NIH, discussed the NIH working group formed to study the future of the biomedical research workforce.  The working group has collected and analyzed data, including high percentages of biomedical Ph.Ds. continuing to work in their chosen fields, and a significantly shorter time spent in postdoctoral fellowship than in the 1990s. The working group has found less than 30% of NIH grants being awarded to women, and a dearth of racial and ethnic minorities in the NIH funded workforce.  A report is expected in June. Dr, Rockey also discussed some potential issues affecting indirect costs and financial management in an austere budget time.

Rima Khabbaz, M.D., Deputy Director for Infectious Disease, CDC, discussed the CDC’s infectious disease framework by highlighting the three overarching fundamentals: to strengthen public health fundamentals, identify and implement high impact public health interventions, and to develop and advance policies to prevent, detect, and control infectious diseases.  The CDC’s Board of Scientific Counselors has designed two new working groups, one on antimicrobial resistance and one on food safety, to assist in these goals. 

John C. Wingfield, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Directorate for Biological Sciences, NSF, presented the five grand challenges facing research at the intersection of the physical and life sciences at NSF.  From these five: Synthesizing Life-Like Systems; Genomes to Phenomes; The Brain: NeuroSystems; Earth, Climate, and Biosphere; Biological Diversity, Dr. Wingfield described the essential role for microbiology research.  NSF has funded at least $110 million in microbial projects in the past two years and development of the bioeconomy, the need for data management, and the transformation of STEM education in the future indicate that there will be continued microbiology opportunities within NSF’s BIO Directorate.

Amy P. Patterson, M.D., Director, Office of Science Policy, Office of the Director, NIH, discussed recent actions of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) and meetings concerning avian Influenza transmissibility research.  She reviewed biosecurity issues and developments related to dual use research of concern (DURC) guidance and policy discussions related to restricted information and research publication. 

Michael V. Callahan, Ph.D., Program Manager, Defense Sciences Office, DARPA, DOD, discussed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). His presentation highlighted some of DARPA’s roles in biological threat defense research; some of these include the prediction of natural pathogen evolution, preclinical diagnosis of disease, and the accelerated manufacture of vaccines and monoclonal antibodies.  

The PSAB reviewed policy issues of importance to microbiology and committee activities for the coming year. 

ASM Attends the Laboratory Response Network Partner’s Meeting
Alice Weissfeld, member of PSAB Professional Affairs Committee, represented ASM at the February 10 meeting of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN) Partner’s group in Atlanta, GA.  Topics for discussion were the impact of budget cuts on response capabilities and electronic data messaging. The LRN was created in 1999 as a consequence of the Presidential Decision Directive 62 entitled Combating Terrorism (PDD-62) and, in the years since its creation, the LRN has played an instrumental role in improving the public health infrastructure by helping to boost laboratory capacity across the nation.  For more information about the LRN, please visit http://www.bt.cdc.gov/lrn/partners.asp

ASM Signs on to CLC Letter Opposing Laboratory Cuts
ASM joined with the Clinical Laboratory Caucus (CLC), a group of laboratory and health care organizations, representing America’s community, regional, and national laboratories and asked key members of Congress to oppose any cuts to the Medicare Part B Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule as they work to address physician pay cuts.   Clinical laboratories have already suffered deep cuts as a result of health reform; there is a direct and immediate cut to the Part B Clinical Lab Fee Schedule of 1.75 percent each year from 2011 through 2015. This nine percent cut is the largest decrease among all Part B providers. Clinical laboratories also received another cut through the productivity adjustment, one of only a few providers subject to an immediate adjustment in 2011, resulting in an additional 11 percent cut over ten years. Together, the direct cut and the productivity adjustment result in a cumulative 20 percent cut over ten years. Laboratories are also facing up to a 2 percent cut to the fee schedule as a result of sequestration, which begins in January, 2013.  To read the letter go to:  http://www.asm.org/images/pdf/Clinical/clcletterlabcutsbaucus.pdf.