November 5, 1999 - National Institutes of Health FY 2000 Funding

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), which represents over 41,000 members in the microbiological sciences, wishes to comment on the proposed budgets for the National Institutes of Health (NIH ) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as Congress and the Administration discuss the final Fiscal Year 2000 appropriations bill for the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.

The ASM strongly supports adoption of the $17.9 billion budget proposed for the NIH. The proposed increase of $2.3 billion represents critical new funding for NIH to sustain progress and to take advantage of new opportunities in medical research that will lead to improved health and quality of life for all Americans. The ASM is grateful to Congress for its continuing strong support for medical research and public health programs supported by the NIH and the CDC. We recognize, with gratitude, that you and others in Congress have taken heroic steps to provide an increase in the NIH budget that will lead to a doubling of the federal investment in medical research.

Although we are aware of the limitations on domestic spending imposed by the 1997 balanced budget agreement, we believe we have a responsibility to raise concerns, which we know you share, about the adverse impact of the provision to delay the obligation of over 40 percent, or $7.5 billion, of the NIH budget and one third, or $1 billion, of the CDC's budget until the last few days of fiscal year 2000. We fear that these delays could seriously undermine the stability of support for federally funded medical research and public health programs. The extent of the delayed obligation of funding would make a significant portion of the NIH budget unavailable until late September 2000, requiring difficult management decisions and adjustments in the timing of research project grants in FY 2000. We are concerned that strategies to accommodate this proposal could result in substantial delays in funding for research project grants. These delays could cause serious problems for researchers and grantee institutions alike by interrupting ongoing research and impeding the start of new projects.

We strongly urge that the $2.3 billion increase for the NIH for fiscal year 2000 be adopted in the final bill. In addition, we know that you will make every effort to reduce significantly the level of delayed obligations in NIH and CDC funding in fiscal year 2000 to avoid a difficult funding situation for NIH and CDC programs.