February 10, 2003
Volume 22, Issue 3
On February 3rd, President Bush released his blueprint for taxing and spending for Fiscal Year (FY) 2004. Establishing his priorities as “Making Our People Safe” and “Strengthening Our Economy,” the President’s $2.25 trillion budget seeks to limit spending growth in most programs with the exception of those related to Homeland Security (DHS) and Defense (DOD). The budget does not include any cost estimates for a possible war with Iraq, but includes further tax cuts.
In the meantime, the end game on the FY 2003 budget has yet to be played. The House-Senate conferees seeking to reconcile their differences on the eleven outstanding appropriations bills are expected to meet early the week of February 10. There is a growing danger that if the bills are not finished soon, those non-defense agencies still without FY 2003 spending allocations may be forced to continue at FY 2002 levels for the rest of the fiscal year. This includes the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and all the research agencies outside of DOD.
Bush’s proposed budget projects a record $304 billion deficit in FY 2003 and an even-greater $307 billion deficit in FY 2004, at which time the non-social security trust fund part of the budget will be almost one-half trillion in the red. The Administration argues that in terms of percentage of GDP, these are manageable figures. Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), Ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, disagrees, calling the FY 2004 proposal “the most fiscally damaging budget in U.S. history.”
The new budget limits spending on discretionary measures, those programs where Congress must appropriate funds, to $782 billion. This is about a $30 billion increase over FY 2003 proposed levels. Since DOD gets $15 billion of the proposed increase over last year (4.2 percent) and Homeland Security gets another $1 billion (5.5 percent), all the other operations of the government are slated for a $14 billion boost (3.8 percent).
The R&D portion of the budget again reaches a record high proposal of $123 billion. Speaking at a breakfast at the American Association for the Advancement of Science on February 6th, Office of Management and Budget official Marcus Peacock noted that the budget includes attempts to rate the effectiveness of R&D programs through something known as PART (Program Assessment Rating Tool). For example, DOD basic research is rated effective, the NSF Geosciences Directorate is rated moderately effective, but most of the programs fell under the “Results Not Demonstrated” category due to inadequate data. The experiment started with 20 percent of government programs this year and the goal is to rate them all by FY 2007. How this is connected to budget increases is unclear, since both the DOD basic research account and the Geosciences Directorate do not receive increases in the proposed budget.
One priority for the Administration is combating terrorism R&D, with $803 million for this function in the new DHS. Information technology and Nanotechnology research also remain high on the agenda. Having heard all the noise about the need to rebalance the R&D portfolio, the Administration proposes a 13 percent increase for the physical sciences so it can catch up to the life sciences, whose support has surged in recent years due to the doubling of the NIH.
The NSF receives $5.5 billion in the President’s budget. This is a 9 percent increase on top of last year’s requested increase of 4 percent, but it is considerably below the $6.4 billion authorized in the legislation enacted last year that would put the agency on the “doubling track.” For the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE), the budget would increase from $196 million in the FY 2003 request to almost $212 million in next year’s requested budget. In addition, the Human and Social Dynamics priority area, developed in SBE and now a Foundation-wide area of emphasis, is budgeted at $24.5 million.
Human and Social Dynamics “seeks to better understand the causes and ramifications of change, to increase our collective ability to anticipate the complex consequences of change, to better understand the dynamics of the human mind, to better understand the cognitive and social structures that create and define change, and to help people and organizations better manage profound or rapid change.” It will examine these areas using multi-scaled, multi-disciplinary approaches.
In FY 2004, the key areas of emphasis will be: 1) enhancing human performance; 2) decision-making under uncertainty; 3) agents of change; 4) modeling human and social dynamics; 5) spatial social science; and 6) instrumentation and data resource development.
The FY 2004 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposes $539 billion, an increase of $36.8 billion or 7 percent. Upon releasing the Department’s budget, Secretary Tommy Thompson explained that the FY 2004 numbers are “fluid” given that the Congress has not completed the FY 2003 appropriations.
Included is $125 million for the Department’s Steps to a Healthier U.S., a “targeted disease prevention initiative” to combat diabetes, reduce rates of obesity, decrease asthma-relate complications, and promote positive youth development. The program will be led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with participation from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the Administration on Aging (AoA), and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
The President’s FY 2004 budget requests $6.5 billion for the CDC, a net increase of $62 million above the FY 2003 budget. For the National Centers on Health Statistics, the President requests $125 million, a decrease of $1 million from the his amended budget and $5 million less than the original FY 2003 request.
The budget request for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is $27.9 billion, a net increase of $549 million or a modest 1.8 percent over the amended President’s budget. As the result of a buffer provided by the conversion of $1.4 billion from “one-time nonrecurring costs” in FY 2003 for facilities construction and anthrax vaccine procurement, the Administration maintains that the proposed increase will be sufficient. When adjusted for these one time costs, the total available for NIH non-biodefense research programs increases by 4.2 percent. The budget request provides $1.6 billion for biodefense research.
The AHRQ is budgeted at $279 million, an increase of $29 million or 11.6 percent from the FY 2003 budget. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is budgeted at $3.4 billion, a net increase of $204 million or 6 percent over the FY 2003 request.
The FY 2004 budget request for the Administration for Children and Families totals $47 billion, a net decrease of $405 million, or 1 percent below the FY 2003 budget. Of this sum, $13.4 billion is discretionary funds and $20.4 billion is the entitlement budget authority. The request includes $6.8 billion for Head Start, a net increase of $148 million over the President’s FY 2003 number.
The FY 2004 budget request includes $6.4 billion for HRSA, a net increase of $316 million above the comparable FY 2003 number.
The HHS FY 2004 budget request includes $3.6 billion for Bioterrorism, $233 million below the FY 2003 budget. The sum represents a change by the Administration to have the Department of Homeland Security finance the anthrax vaccine procurement NIH will begin in FY 2003 and the completion of one-time expenditures for research laboratories in CDC, NIH, and the extramural science community. The entire request will fund ongoing preparedness and research efforts, an increase of $833 million above the FY 2003 number for comparable activities.
The FY 2004 budget requests $61.4 billion for the Department of Education (ED), a $1 billion or 1.7 percent increase over the FY 2003 budget. The ED discretionary programs, however, receive a $2.8 billion or 5.6 percent increase, from $50.3 to $53.1 billion. The Department is highlighting three key program increases in its FY 2004 budget request: $1 billion for Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies, $1 billion for Special Education Grants to states, and $1.9 billion for the Pell Grants program.
The President’s FY 2004 budget is the first for the new Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which replaces the Office of Education Research and Improvement. The education research, statistics, and assessment activities, which are funded through the IES, are slated for a $10.5 million increase, from $365.4 to $375.9 million, over the FY 2003 request. Most of this boost would go to the research, development, and dissemination account, which jumps from $175 million in the FY 2003 President’s budget to $185 million in the FY 2004 figure. This is a proposed $10 million or 5.7 percent increase. The statistics account is budgeted at $95 million, the same as the FY 2003 budget, and the assessment account gets a small boost, from $95.4 million in FY 2003 to $95.9 million in FY 2004.
It is worth noting that the FY 2004 President’s budget calls for the elimination of the Regional Education Laboratories. The Department justifies the move by noting that the authorization legislation creating the IES “did not make needed improvement in structure and function of the” labs.
The Department of Agriculture’s FY 2004 budget request of $74 billion is $1.4 billion or 1.9 percent greater than the $72.6 billion FY 2003 request. The Department is highlighting key increases in the area of safeguarding the homeland by protecting the food supply. The budget request also funds key initiatives passed as part of last year’s Farm Bill. The Research, Education, and Economics account drops from $2.312 billion in the FY 2003 request to $2.266 billion in FY 2004. This cut of $46 million is a decrease of 2 percent.
Within the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, the Hatch Act Formula program is flatlined at $180.1 million. The Special Grants category receives the same $18.3 million figure it had in the FY 2003 budget, but this account is consistently ballooned by congressional earmarks. The National Research Initiative Competitive Grants program falls from $240 million in the FY 2003 request to $200 million in the new budget.
The Economic Research Service increases from $73 million to $77 million and the National Agricultural Statistics Service falls from $141 million to $136 million due largely to reductions related to the cyclical nature of the Census of Agriculture.
The Census Bureau’s FY 2004 budget calls for total funding of $662 million, $43.3 million or 6.1 percent lower than the $705.7 million FY 2003 request. The cut is due to funding decreases for various cyclical programs and a reduction in the number of test sites for the 2004 census field test. The budget request calls for funding to support a “short-form only 2010 census” and “implementation of the longform data.” It remains to be seen, however, how damaging the ongoing FY 2003 appropriations process will be to the Bureau’s ACS plans.
With the Republicans in control of both Houses of Congress, but by a slim majority in the Senate, the proposed budget’s spending and taxing plans will not emerge unchanged. With supplemental spending for the Iraqi war and other uncertainties, the budget deficits will likely soar even higher. The Administration seems not to care too much claiming the deficits are “not welcome,” but essentially the price you pay for fighting a war on terrorism and trying to get the economy moving again through tax cuts.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a Syracuse university economist, has been named to lead the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The CBO plays a key role in providing Congress with critical fiscal information to help it set policy. It produces deficit/surplus forecasts and all bills Congress considers must be scored by CBO for their fiscal impact. Holtz-Eakin will serve a four- year term, replacing Dan Crippen, whose term expired early this year.
The Chairs of the House and Senate budget committees choose the CBO chief. The Speaker of the House and the Senate President pro tempore jointly make the appointment official. At the moment, Holtz-Eakin is the Chief Economist of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), a post he has held since June 2001. Prior to coming to CEA he had been at Syracuse University where he served as Chair of the Department of Economics and Associate Director for the Maxwell Center for Policy Research. He is also a Faculty Research Fellow and Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research. In 1989-90, Holtz-Eakin served an earlier stint with the CEA as Senior Staff Economist. He has also taught at Columbia and Princeton Universities and been a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is editor-on-leave of the National Tax Journal and was co-editor of the Journal of Human Resources from 1997-99. He has had support for his research from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute on Aging, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He has a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton.
As the Federal budget plunges into large deficits again and the Administration keeps pushing its tax cut agenda, the CBO and Hotlz-Eakin will face pressure to produce credible forecasts and to adopt dynamic scoring, a technique that allows the potential revenue from a tax cut to be included in revenue projections.
On February 5, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced Carolyn M. Clancy’s appointment as the new Director for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). She now faces confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
Clancy, who has been serving as Acting Director of AHRQ since March 2002, will “oversee the development of research that provides evidence-based information on health care outcomes; quality; cost; use and access.” Prior to serving as AHRQ’s Acting Director, Clancy was Director of the Agency’s Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research (COER), which conducts and supports studies of the outcomes and effectiveness of diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive health care services and procedures.
Clancy, a graduate of Boston College and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, succeeds the late John M. Eisenberg.
On January 27, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) announced the appointment of Margaret A. Chesney as its first Deputy Director. “Dr. Margaret Chesney brings to this position an extraordinary record of scientific achievement and leadership in studies of the complex behaviors that lead to cardiovascular diseases and AIDS, and of rigorous trials of novel interventions to prevent them,” said NCCAM Director Stephen Strauss. “Her influence will be felt most immediately on the Center’s portfolio of studies of mind-body approaches to healing and related behavioral and social science investigations,” he continued.
A former COSSA seminar speaker, prior to joining NCCAM, Chesney was Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco (USCF), where she was also Co-Director of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and Director of the Behavioral Medicine and Epidemiology Core of the UCSF Center for AIDS Research. Most recently, Chesney was a Senior Visiting Scientist in the National Institutes of Health Office of Women’s Health, which falls within the Office of the Director.
Chesney is Past President of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, and a former President of the American Psychosomatic Society. She is also a Past President of the Division of Health Psychology of the American Psychological Association. In 2001, she was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science.
On January 31, HHS Secretary Thompson announced the appointment of Bernard A. Schwetz to be Acting Director of the Department’s Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP).
Schwetz is currently the Senior Advisor for Science at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is a Distinguished Scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park. From January 20, 2001, to February 22, 2002, he was the Acting Principal Deputy Commissioner of the FDA and before that served as the agency's Acting Deputy Commissioner. He has served in the Senior Advisor role since September 1999. He was Director of the FDA's National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Ark., from 1993 to 1999. A Diplomat of the American Board of Toxicology and Honorary Diplomat of the American Veterinary Epidemiology Society, Schwetz was Acting Director of the Environmental Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health's Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) before coming to the FDA in 1993.
The Bush Administration has announced as part of its Federal government management strategy a goal of taking 850,000 Federal jobs and opening them up to competition between Federal workers and private sector companies. The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), which includes the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), has now adopted this strategy.
The Office of Federal Procurement and Policy under the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act designates positions within an agency as Commercial or Inherently Governmental. The NIJ has 79 of 98 positions that have been deemed “commercial” and therefore open to competition. At the BJS, 51 of 57 positions have been so designated. The NIJ positions include 61 of 79 Grants Monitoring/Evaluation posts, as well as administrative support and information technology jobs. At the statistical Bureau, 18 of 20 Grants Monitoring/Evaluation jobs, 20 of 23 Statistical Analysis positions, as well as positions designated as administrative support, data collection/analysis, and systems design, development, and program services, are in the “commercial” category.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-76 outlines procedures to govern the competition. OMB recently proposed revisions to these guidelines that it hopes would speed up the process allowing for more efficient transfers to the private sector.
COSSA and other groups have raised questions about protecting the independence and integrity of the Department of Justice’s research and statistics operations if large numbers of positions in these agencies wind up in the private sector. Deborah Daniels, Assistant Attorney General for OJP, assured COSSA that the “supervision, management, oversight, and control” of activities at these agencies would remain “inherently governmental,” and that “OJP is fully committed to monitoring the integrity of the scientific process,” with regard to research and statistics.
COSSA provides this information as a service and encourages readers to contact the sponsoring agency for further information. Additional application guidelines and restrictions may apply.
Maintenance of Long Term Behavioral Change
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) and 12 NIH Institutes and Centers are seeking research proposals to examine biopsychosocial processes and test interventions designed to achieve long-term health behavior change, and to provide a Resource Center for coordination of this set of research projects.
The RFA encourages investigators to expand on the current theoretical base of change processes and intervention models, as well as to consider new conceptualizations from basic research in the social and behavioral sciences.
Applications must focus on important health-related behaviors already demonstrated amenable to short-term change, such as tobacco use, exercise, eating habits, alcohol and drug use, inoculation obtainment, disease screening, stress reduction, adherence to health care regimens, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or sexually transmitted infection (STI) risk practices, bullying and abuse of others, sun exposure, and failure to use safety equipment.
A letter of intent is due March 11, 2003 and applications are due by April 11, 2003. For more information see: http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-OB-03-003.html.
Pathways Linking Education to Health
Education, along with income and occupation, has been used repeatedly to define the social gradient in health that persists despite marked improvement in the health of the American population over the last 100 years. Generally individuals with lower income, less education, and lower-status occupation/employment, requiring less education and/or providing less income, have poorer health.
The OBSSR, the National Institute on Aging, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) invite applications to increase the level and diversity of research directed at elucidating the causal pathways and mechanisms that may underlie the association between education and health.
A letter of intent is due February 28, 2003, and the application is due March 26, 2003. For more information see: http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-OB-03-001.html.
Mind-Body Interactions and Health: Research Infrastructure Program
The OBSSR, along with 15 of the NIH Institutes and Centers, invites applications for infrastructure grants in support of research on “mind-body interactions and health.” This phrase refers to the relationships among cognitions, emotions, personality, social relationships, and health.
This announcement (RFA-OB-03-004) invites applications for research infrastructure program R24 grant awards. The companion announcement (RFA-OB-03-005), Mind-Body Interactions and Health: Exploratory/ Developmental Research Program solicits applications for R21 awards, which are intended to support the development and demonstrate the feasibility of programs at institutions that have high potential for advancing mind-body and health research, but have not yet fully achieved the necessary resources and mechanisms to qualify for a Research Infrastructure Award.
Applicant institutions may request funds to support infrastructure and research designed to (1) enhance the quality and quantity of mind-body and health research and (2) develop new research capabilities to advance mind-body and health research through innovative approaches. A central goal of this program is to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation in mind-body and health research while providing essential and cost-effective core services in support of the development, conduct, and translation into practice of mind-body and health research based in centers or comparable administrative units.
A letter of intent is due June 16, 2003 and the application is due July 16, 2003. For more information see: http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-OB-03-004.html or/RFA OB-03-005
Research in Adolescent Literacy
The NICHD, in partnership with the Office of Adult and Vocational Education (OVAE), the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), and the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Institute of Education Sciences (IES), invites research grant applications to develop new knowledge in the area of adolescent literacy. The specific focus of this RFA is on the discovery of cognitive, perceptual, behavioral, genetic, hormonal, and neurobiological mechanisms that are influential in the continuing development of reading and writing abilities during the adolescent years, and on methods for the identification, prevention, and remediation of reading and writing disabilities in adolescents.
Both longitudinal and cross-sectional studies are needed, along with a need for novel uses of designs and methods and for the development of innovative ways to study this challenging group of students. Studies should be multidisciplinary and study samples appropriate to the research design and questions being addressed wherever possible and should reflect the diversity of adolescents in the U.S. today.
Studies are also needed to establish reliable and valid measurement strategies and instruments, to identify critical etiological factors (cognitive, linguistic, genetic, neurobiological, and experiential) associated with reading and writing disabilities in adolescents, and to develop well-defined, evidence-based treatment interventions.
The letter of intent is due February 26, 2003 and the application is due March 26, 2003. For more information see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-HD-03-012.html.
Effectiveness of Early Childhood Programs, Curricula, and Interventions in Promoting School Readiness
The NICHD, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), and ED’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) invite research grant applications to develop rigorous scientific studies of the effectiveness of integrative early childhood interventions and programs across a variety of early childhood settings in promoting school readiness for children, from birth through age five, who are at risk of later school difficulties.
The co-sponsoring agencies seek research to increase understanding of the types of integrative programs and their components (individually and in combination) that promote child learning and development across multiple domains of early childhood competence, including language and communication, emergent and early literacy, early mathematics, early science, self-regulation of behavior, emotion, and attention, social competency, and motivation to learn, as well as those that address teacher, caregiver, or parent behaviors to promote children's development in these areas.
A letter of intent is due February 26, 2003 and the application is due March 25, 2003. For more information see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-HD-03-003.html.
Planning Grants for Translational Research for the Prevention and Control of Diabetes
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the National Eye Institute (NEI), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- Division of Diabetes Translation (CDC-DDT) seek to foster the development of innovative programs to translate recent advances in the prevention and treatment of diabetes and its complications into clinical practice for individuals and communities at risk.
An ongoing program announcement, PA 02-153, established a diabetes prevention and control program, and seeks applications for public health, clinical, or behavioral studies to develop and test: 1) improved methods of health care delivery to patients with or at risk of diabetes, 2) improved methods of diabetes self management, and 3) cost effective community-based strategies to promote healthy lifestyles that will reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity. This program announcement (PAR-03-060) establishes a small grant program to fund pilot studies that would lead to full-scale trials under the parent program announcement. For more information see: http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-03-060.html.