The question most immediately on the mind of everyone submitting grants in 2012 for FY13 is the impact of the Budget Control Act of 2011 on NIH paylines. With an election in November, a looming debt ceiling (possibly before the election but likely after – but no later than Dec-Jan), and automatic sequestration (7.8% cut to all non-defense discretionary programs) to kick in on Jan 2, 2013, it does not look good. Relief would only come if Congress passes bipartisan balanced deficit reduction legislation in time …
With all these unknowns, none of them good, the interim paylines will be very conservative. In a letter to Rep. Edward Markey (D, Mass), the Asst Secretary for Financial Resources at HHS estimates that the NIH
“could potentially eliminate 2,300 new and competiting research project grants, with nearly 300 fewer grants by the National Cancer Institute.”
In FY11, the NIH funded 8,776 Type 1, 2, & 3 research project grant applications, so we would be looking at more than 25% fewer awards. At NCI, 1480 competing RPGs were funded in FY11, so cutting 300 awards would represent a 20% drop. I assume the cuts to other mechanisms would be proportional … or the ICs might shuffle funds around to protect R01s at the expense of other mechanisms.
Now, the FY will begin with a continuing resolution, most likely based on FY12 funding levels, but this is not required (that is, Congress could go back to an earlier FY to set interim budget authority). Even though they may start out at FY12 budget levels, the ICs won’t know if these will precipitously drop come January, so will almost certainly not be making awards according to FY12 paylines. Your PO won’t know either, so there is no use in asking until the fiscal picture in DC becomes more clear.
In the meantime, don’t hesitate to remind your Congressional delegation (and candidates for office) of the importance of sustained funding for scientific research in support of the physical, mental, and economic health of the nation. The FASEB Legislative Action Center offers excellent tools to help you contact the right folks and make the right points.