End of Fiscal Year 2012 Summary

At the 150th meeting of our Advisory Council last week, I presented several budget slides that I’d like to share with you. They summarize funding allocations for this fiscal year, which ends on September 30.

Figure 1 shows the $2.429 billion Fiscal Year 2012 NIGMS budget by major component. The biggest portion is for research project grants (RPGs), most of which are R01s. Due to the transfer of programs—predominantly center grants—from the former National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) partway through the fiscal year, the RPG budget as a percentage of the total is less than the estimate I provided earlier, while the centers percentage is greater. About 74%, or just over $1 billion, of the RPG budget goes to fund noncompeting grant commitments and about 25%, or $349 million, is used to fund competing grants.

Figure 1. Breakdown of the Fiscal Year 2012 NIGMS budget into its major components.

Figure 1. Breakdown of the Fiscal Year 2012 NIGMS budget into its major components. About 58% of the budget supports research project grants (RPGs), and of that, 74% is used to pay noncompeting grants, 25% to pay competing grants and 1% to pay supplements.

Below is a closer look at the competing RPGs. It shows that 94%, or about $330 million, is used to pay investigator-initiated research and that the remaining 6%, or about $19 million, funds mainly R01 grants submitted in response to requests for applications (RFAs). At last week’s meeting, the Advisory Council approved one new RFA and the reissue of several other RFAs for funding consideration in Fiscal Year 2014.

Figure 2. Breakdown of the Fiscal Year 2012 competing RPG budget.

Figure 2. Breakdown of the Fiscal Year 2012 competing RPG budget. About 94% of the budget is used to pay investigator-initiated research and the remainder funds mainly R01 grants submitted in response to requests for applications (RFAs).

Another snapshot (Figure 3) shows a historical view of the RPG budget and number of RPGs compared to the total NIGMS budget. The increase in the total budget in Fiscal Year 2012 is due to the addition of NCRR programs. The decline in the number of RPGs is due to increasing grant costs.

Figure 3. RPG budget and number of grants compared to the total budget for Fiscal Years 1998-2012.

Figure 3. RPG budget and number of grants compared to the total budget for Fiscal Years 1998-2012.

As we estimated earlier in the year, the Fiscal Year 2012 success rate is around 24%.

We will provide information on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget when it’s available.

Inside the Budget Process

When a new appropriation is passed, we are often asked how soon awards will be made and other implications of the funding level. So we thought we’d offer a description of the 3-year budget process Exit icon, including an explanation of what we need to do to make awards once we have an appropriation.

The Federal budget process has three main phases: formulation, presentation (to Congress) and execution. From the beginning of the budget formulation phase to the end of the execution phase, the process takes almost 3 years.
View larger image

The Federal budget process has three main stages: formulation, presentation (to Congress) and execution. From the beginning of the budget formulation stage to the end of the execution stage, the process takes almost 3 years.

Stage 1a: Budget Formulation at the NIH Level (usually June through October of year 1)

NIH develops an agency-wide budget request and submits it to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS reviews the request and provides an allowance of funds with policy guidelines.
Negotiations follow between NIH and HHS, resulting in a final budget allowance that HHS submits to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB reviews the HHS request along with all other department budgets and issues another budget allowance with policy guidelines.

After more negotiations, OMB issues a final allowance. NIH reworks its budget to fit this allowance and its guidelines, then makes allocations to each institute and center.

Stage 1b: Budget Formulation at the Institute/Center Level (usually November through January of year 2)

Each institute or center allocates its budget on a mechanism-by-mechanism basis (i.e., separate budget allocations for research grants, center grants, training grants, etc.) following the guidance provided by OMB and NIH. For an example, see this budget mechanism table.

Typical guidance examples include:

  • X% reduction on noncompeting research project grants.
  • The same overall average cost for competing grants as in the previous year.
  • The same number of trainees supported as in the previous year.

Stage 2: Budget Presentation to Congress (January through September of year 2)

The President issues his budget request for the upcoming fiscal year Exit icon, usually in early February.

Each institute or center then issues a Congressional justification (CJ) document defending its portion of the President’s budget request to Congress. The CJ displays budgets for the prior year, current year and upcoming year, along with other tables and program descriptions.

Next, usually in the spring, the NIH Director and selected institute or center directors attend Congressional hearings with the House and Senate subcommittees in charge of NIH appropriations. The NIH Director presents an opening statement and the committee members ask questions in person and later in writing. All directors submit written opening statements and may have to answer questions even if they don’t testify at a hearing.

The House and Senate subcommittees develop a budget allowance for each institute or center, including “report language” identifying any specific guidance and significant items they wish to address. This is followed by a conference to work out the differences and finally by an appropriation to each institute or center that the President signs into law.

If a budget is not approved by the start of the fiscal year (October 1), Congress will usually pass a continuing resolution to provide temporary funding. Under a standard continuing resolution, current operations may continue at a specified funding level, including the funding of some grants, but new programs cannot be started.

Stage 3: Budget Execution of the Current-Year Appropriation (October 1 through September 30 of year 3)

Once an appropriation is signed, several additional steps must take place before we can begin funding grants. For example, we need to submit documents to OMB so it can make funds available to us on a quarterly basis. Also, we need to implement the policy guidance and modify our grants management systems accordingly.

We then allocate the funds by mechanism, applying current policies and determining the cost of commitments within those mechanisms. We allocate the bulk of the remaining competing funds to investigator-initiated research project grants (RPGs), with a small portion going to special initiatives. RPG funds are disbursed to the NIGMS divisions three times per year, following each advisory council meeting. The divisions’ budgets are based on the specific applications assigned to them and their scores. Divisions make funding decisions that take into consideration the applications’ scientific merit, new investigator support, area of research and other parameters.

Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Hearings Under Way

The House hearing on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget request for NIH happened on Tuesday, March 20, and the Senate one will occur this Wednesday, March 28.

My written statement to the House Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations highlights recent research advances in model organism research, systems biology, AIDS-related structural biology, disease modeling, chemical synthesis and pharmacogenomics. I also mention our ongoing efforts to strengthen the biomedical research workforce.

NIH Director Francis Collins’ written testimony on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget is also now available.

These statements are part of the process that ultimately leads to an appropriations bill for NIH, including NIGMS. In a future post, we will describe the entire budget process so that you can better understand how and when we make funding decisions.

Budget Update for Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013

The Fiscal Year 2012 appropriation provides NIH with $30.86 billion and NIGMS with $2.43 billion. The NIGMS figure represents an increase of 19% over Fiscal Year 2011 due to an increase in funds for programs transferred to NIGMS from the former National Center for Research Resources.

NIGMS will implement its fiscal management policies in a manner consistent with NIH’s fiscal policies:

  • Noncompeting research project grants (RPGs), both modular and nonmodular, will be issued with no inflationary increases for Fiscal Year 2012 and all future years, except for special needs such as equipment and added personnel. Fiscal Year 2012 competing awards will be held at an average cost comparable to Fiscal Year 2011 competing awards. Fiscal Year 2012 awards that have already been issued will be revised to adjust the award level in accordance with the above policies.
  • For Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA), all stipend levels will increase by 2%.

The President’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget request Exit icon, which was released on February 13, maintains the current NIH budget of $30.86 billion, similar to the Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations. The President’s Fiscal Year 2013 request for NIGMS provides a budget of $2.38 billion, a slight decrease from Fiscal Year 2012 but comparable to the Fiscal Year 2011 level of support. The Fiscal Year 2013 request includes a decrease for the IDeA program, which received a 1-year increase in Fiscal Year 2012.

Details of the budget request for NIH are posted on the NIH Office of Budget Web site. The NIGMS request is detailed in our Fiscal Year 2013 budget justification, which includes a budget mechanism table, budget graphs, a Director’s overview and a justification narrative.

Fiscal Year 2011 R01 Funding Outcomes and Estimates for Fiscal Year 2012

Fiscal Year 2011 ended on September 30, 2011. As in previous years, we have analyzed the funding results (including percentiles and success rates) for R01 grants, shown in Figures 1-5. Thanks to Jim Deatherage for preparing these data.

Figure 1. Competing R01 applications reviewed (open rectangles) and funded (solid bars) in Fiscal Year 2011.
View larger image

Figure 1. Competing R01 applications reviewed (open rectangles) and funded (solid bars) in Fiscal Year 2011.

Figure 2. NIGMS competing R01 funding curves for Fiscal Years 2007-2011. For Fiscal Year 2011, the success rate for R01 applications was 24%, and the midpoint of the funding curve was at approximately the 19th percentile.
View larger image

Figure 2. NIGMS competing R01 funding curves for Fiscal Years 2007-2011. For Fiscal Year 2011, the success rate for R01 applications was 24%, and the midpoint of the funding curve was at approximately the 19th percentile.

Although the number of competing R01 awards funded by NIGMS in Fiscal Year 2011 was nearly identical to those in the previous 2 years (Figure 3), the success rate declined in 2011. Factors in this decline were a sharp increase in the number of competing applications that we received in 2011 (Figure 4) along with a decrease in total funding for R01s due to an NIH-wide budget reduction. For more discussion, read posts from Sally Rockey of the NIH Office of Extramural Research on NIH-wide success rates and factors influencing them.

Figure 3. Number of R01 and R37 grants (competing and noncompeting) funded in Fiscal Years 1997-2011.
View larger image

Figure 3. Number of R01 and R37 grants (competing and noncompeting) funded in Fiscal Years 1997-2011.

Figure 4. Number of competing R01 applications (including revisions) received during Fiscal Years 1998-2012.

Figure 4. Number of competing R01 applications (including revisions) received during Fiscal Years 1998-2012.

Below are the total NIGMS expenditures (including both direct and indirect costs) for R01 and R37 grants for Fiscal Year 1995 through Fiscal Year 2011.

Figure 5. The upper curve shows the overall NIGMS expenditures on R01 and R37 grants (competing and noncompeting, including supplements) in Fiscal Years 1995-2011. The lower curve (right vertical axis) shows the median direct costs of NIGMS R01 grants. Results are in actual dollars with no correction for inflation.

Figure 5. The upper curve shows the overall NIGMS expenditures on R01 and R37 grants (competing and noncompeting, including supplements) in Fiscal Years 1995-2011. The lower curve (right vertical axis) shows the median direct costs of NIGMS R01 grants. Results are in actual dollars with no correction for inflation.

In Fiscal Year 2012, we have received about 3,700 competing R01 grant applications (including revisions) and anticipate funding about 850 of these with the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriation. We expect the R01 success rate to be between 24% and 25%.

Because the competing application numbers and the total R01 budgets for Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012 are similar, the funding trends will likely be comparable.

Continuing Resolution and Noncompeting Research Grant Award Levels

A continuing resolution enacted on October 4, 2011, extends NIH’s operations through November 18, 2011, at the Fiscal Year 2011 level minus 1.5%.

During this period, NIH will make noncompeting research grant awards at reduced levels, typically up to 90% of the previously committed level. This approach is consistent with our practice during continuing resolutions in other years. NIH will consider upward adjustments to awarded levels once Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations are enacted.

Funding Allocation for Research Project Grants in Fiscal Year 2012

In this 200th Feedback Loop post, I’d like to share budget slides I presented earlier this month during the open session of our National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council meeting. The session also included updates on several of our initiatives as well concept clearances for two new ones, which are briefly described in the meeting summary.

As part of my acting director’s report, I presented our Fiscal Year 2012 funding plan and focused specifically on our budget for research project grants (RPGs), which includes mostly R01s. The figures below are based on a budget estimate for Fiscal Year 2012, which begins on October 1. Since NIH has not yet received an appropriation for the next fiscal year, the estimate assumes that the budget will be at approximately the Fiscal Year 2011 level.

Figure 1 breaks down the total NIGMS budget of about $2.034 billion into its major components and shows that 67% of the budget will support RPGs. Of that portion, we will use around 76% to pay noncompeting grants (commitments on grants already awarded). This leaves about 23% for competing grants and 1% for supplements.

Figure 1. Fiscal Year 2012 Breakdown

Figure 1. Fiscal Year 2012 breakdown of the estimated NIGMS budget into its major components. About 67% of the budget will support research project grants (RPGs), and of that, 76% will be used to pay noncompeting grants, 23% to pay competing grants and 1% to pay supplements.

Figure 2 breaks down the competing RPG budget. It shows that 93% will be used to pay investigator-initiated research and that the remaining 7% will fund mainly R01 grants submitted in response to requests for applications (RFAs), which have been carefully considered by NIGMS staff in consultation with the scientific community and have been approved by our Advisory Council during the concept clearance process.

Figure 2: NIGMS FY 2012 Breakdown of Estimated Competing RPG Budget

Figure 2. Fiscal Year 2012 breakdown of the estimated competing RPG budget. About 93% of the budget will be used to pay investigator-initiated research, and the remainder will fund R01 grants submitted in response to RFAs.

The final figure shows that the portion of the competing RPG budget spent on investigator-initiated research during the last 8 years has varied between 87% and 94%, further indicating that NIGMS commits a relatively small amount of RPG funds to grants that are not investigator-initiated.

Figure 3. Comparison of RPG Budgets in Fiscal Years 2004-2011

Figure 3. Comparison of RPG budgets in Fiscal Years 2004-2011 for investigator-initiated research versus set-asides for grants in response to specific RFAs. During this period, the portion spent on investigator-initiated research has varied between 87% and 94%.

Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Update

The Senate hearing on the Fiscal Year 2012 President’s budget request for NIH happened on May 11, and you can watch the archived Webcast.

My written testimony and NIH Director Francis Collins’ written testimony on next year’s budget are also now available. The ultimate outcome will be a bill appropriating funds for NIH and its components (view history of NIH appropriations).

For more on the proposed NIGMS budget, see my update from February 15.

Fiscal Year 2011 Funding Policy

As you may be aware, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 Exit icon (Public Law 112-10) enacted on April 15 provides Fiscal Year 2011 funds for NIH and NIGMS at a level approximately 1% lower than those for Fiscal Year 2010.

NIH has released a notice outlining its fiscal policy for grant awards. This notice includes reductions in noncompeting awards to allow the funding of additional new and competing awards.

For noncompeting awards:

  • Modular grants will be awarded at a level 1% lower than the current Fiscal Year 2011 committed level.
  • Nonmodular grants will not receive any inflationary increase and will be reduced by an additional 1%.
  • Awards that have already been issued (typically at 90% of the previously committed level) will be adjusted upward to be consistent with the above policies.

For competing awards:

  • Based on the appropriation level, we expect to make approximately 866 new and competing research project grant awards at NIGMS, compared to 891 in Fiscal Year 2010.
  • It is worth noting that we received more new and competing grant applications this fiscal year—3,875 versus 3,312 in Fiscal Year 2010.

The NIGMS Fiscal Year 2011 Financial Management Plan (link no longer available) has additional information, including about funding of new investigators and National Research Service Award stipends.

Budget Updates

NIGMS Congressional Justification FY 2012An important step in the annual budget process is the release of the President’s budget request, which happened yesterday. The NIGMS slice is detailed in our FY 2012 budget justification, which includes a budget mechanism table, budget graphs, a Director’s overview and a justification narrative.

The proposed budget for NIH calls for an increase of 2.4% over Fiscal Year 2010 actual expenditures. The proposed budget for NIGMS represents a 2.5% increase over Fiscal Year 2010.

The reason that the comparisons are to Fiscal Year 2010 is that NIH is currently funded at that year’s level under a continuing resolution through March 4, 2011. As described in NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-11-037, until a final Fiscal Year 2011 appropriation is enacted, NIH is issuing noncompeting research grant awards at a level below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90% of the previously committed level). This is consistent with our practice during the continuing resolutions of Fiscal Years 2006 to 2010. NIH will consider upward adjustments to these levels after a final appropriation is enacted.