NIH ARRA Implementation Plan

I know you’ve been waiting on the edge of your seat for the HHS Agency-Wide Recovery Implementation Plan, and I’m thrilled to say the wait is over.

The section on Strengthening Scientific Research and Facilities includes 4 PDF files laying out how the NIH will spend $8.2B on Scientific Research (only $122M used intramurally); $1B on Extramural Lab Construction & Renovation; $300M on Shared Instrumentation; and $500M on Buildings & Facilities (intramural).

The Scientific Research plan again notes the plan to support Signature Initiatives, the only mechanism (or strategy) not yet announced for funding – and not mentioned in the implementation timeline. On page 4 of the plan, there is an interesting table laying out how the $8.2B will be distributed by grant type. I was puzzled to see, for example, 525 awards totaling $39M going toward institutional training grants. Meritoriously scored pick-ups and supplements?

The table on page 6 is of interest as it gives target quotas for the number of new and competing RPGs, administrative supplements, and competitive revision awards to be made … plus an empty row for number of jobs created/retained. The numbers jump considerably between the original and revised targets for each, especially in FY09, giving a nice incremental change (increase) in performance:

  • 9,842 -> 16,564 RPGs
  • 1,369 -> 3,445 administrative supplements
  • 37 -> 576 competitive revision awards

Oddly, the NIH had no original target for extramural construction awards, despite knowing money had specifically been designated for this purpose. For FY09, their revised award target is 58, with 174 awards to be made in FY10. The Shared Instrumentation plan shows a bigger jump in FY10 (124 -> 544 awards) than in FY09 (123 -> 198).

Intramurally, the NIH’s big projects include the John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center Phase II (PNRCII) ($266 million), Building 10 (original clinical research hospital) F Wing Renovations ($134 million), Build-Out of Building 3 (offices) ($21 million), and Conversion of Building 7 (Rocky Mountain Laboratories) ($7 million).

A separate section on Supporting Comparative Effectiveness Research includes 3 very uninformative PDF files: NIH ($400M), AHRQ ($300M), and Office of Secretary. None of them have any original or revised targets in terms of numbers of awards, though the Office of the Secretary plan notes that $1.5M went for a CER study by the IOM and another $1.1M to provide logistical support to the new Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research.

Also of interest in the Office of the Secretary plan is a table on page 4 showing output measure targets, which I bring up in consideration of RC2 applicants, who need to provide measurable outcomes to assess whether they are making the most of their grand opportunity. The AHRQ CER plan provides another model for such a table on pp 4-5.



  1. I was puzzled to see, for example, 525 awards totaling $39M going toward institutional training grants. Meritoriously scored pick-ups and supplements?

    I’m pretty sure this is almost all supplements, as most Institutes are restoring slots that were approved during peer review, but cut administratively. One of our T32s got fucked on this, because it was cut by the fucking study section, those fucking assholes. Program told us that they are forbidden by statute/rule from giving us such slots via administrative supplement, and that we would have to submit a competitive revision.

    That’s a lot of supplements (~6.5% of the total $ spent on Ts in 2008), but, yes, I agree it is likely a big infusion of slots that will disappear in 2 years. NHLBI offered FY09 supplemental funding to NIGMS MSTP programs back in March, so maybe more ICs are making similar contributions. – writedit

  2. infrequent commenter said

    I believe that the “original target” = how many grants NIH would fund under the normal, annual appropriations, and “revised target” = the original target plus the number of grants NIH will fund with ARRA money. Extramural construction hasn’t received an annual appropriation for several years, so the original target would be zero, and the revised target is all ARRA-funded projects.

    Aha, yes, of course. Thanks for pointing this out. Pretty obvious, actually, but I’ve been thinking in terms of keeping ARRA $ separate from the base appropriation. These plans need to tout how much “science!” will be stimulated by ARRA above what would normally happen. I know all too well about the C06 program being zeroed abruptly about 5 years ago – we (back in Sunny Va) had a fundable score only to discover the appropriation didn’t come through. Happy days are hear again … or so one hopes. – writedit

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