The scrutiny casts doubt on NIH's plan to include NCATS in its 2012 budget request so it can be launched in October. At a meeting of NCCR's
advisory council meeting this week, where council members grilled NIH Deputy Director Larry Tabak about the plan,
Tabak acknowledged the uncertainty. For the first time he used the acronym "pNCATS" for the new center, with the "p" standing for "proposed."
Meanwhile, an effort by Collins last week to drum up support for NCATS with press interviews may have backfired. An article in The New York Times drew an unusual statement titled "Separating Fact & Fiction" in which NIH officials assure the
community that "NCATS is not intended to be a drug company" and that "there are no plans to "cannibalize" the budgets or programs of other NIH
Institutes and Centers to form NCATS."
See the full e-mail from the congressional staffer below. For more about the uproar over NCATS, see the 28 January issue of Science.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 9:57 AM
House Questions on Notification of NIH reorganization
We received the notification letter to for two proposed reorganization actions by HHS at NIH, January 14, 2011 letter—emailed at 7:58pm. We
appreciate the follow-on note that this is based on SMRB review; therefore, we assume that all the requested information is from below is readily
available — if you have all this information ready so if you can send it over on Thursday morning — I will try to find time to meet this Friday. I
prefer to have briefing on both at one time. We will expect that at a minimum, Dr. Alving participate in this meeting as we have specific questions on
the impact to NCRR programs and the community response; plus Dr. Tabak who is according to the web site is leading the effort for the re-organization.
Also, given the bill— GP that requires advance notice prior to discussion this with the outside — it is disheartening to see that HHS and NIH
established a web-site for comments prior to talking or providing full notice on the proposal. In addition, the web-site notes another new
organization that was not in the notice—I assume the notice is forth coming and the appropriate action will occur.
(Please note, we would appreciate all answers in word or excel files and not pdf format)
The letter proposes two separate actions to be evaluated independently:
1) Establish National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS); and
2) Abolish the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
We have not taken any position on the two separate proposals at this point and request the following information for each proposal:
A) Specific justification and rational for each proposal
B) Budgetary consequences for FY 2011 and beyond for each proposal to all NIH Institute and Center (IC)—by IC
C) Operational consequences of each proposed change, to include impact on each IC
D) Historical funding and support for research activities NCRR
E) Historical funding and support for research activities NCATS that is conducted by each IC
F) Estimate the level of resources needed to implement each proposed change independently for each NIH IC in FY 2011 and FY 2012
G) Assume the proposed changes are made — provide the SMPR recommendation for the allocation of the resources of NIH IC at the FY 2010 CR level
for FY 2011
H) For each proposed change, identify the consequences for the progress of research in the areas affected by the proposed changes for each NIH IC.
On the establishment of the new IC:
A) What would the specific mission of the new IC be and under what authorities?
B) Please provide the pending scientific opportunities and public health need and other criteria used to by the NIH Director.
C) Identify other pending scientific opportunities and public health needs by NIH ICs and the justification as to how this was ranked as a higher
D) The letter notes an assumption about the non-funded health reform provisions, Cures Acceleration Network, as a significant justification for this
new IC — please provide specific details on if funded how it would operate under this structure as compared to the request from NIH earlier in the FY
2011 process for it to be located within OD?
E) Please provide specific on the intent of the new IC with respect to — equip the agency with flexibility to carry out therapeutic development
F) Please provide a budget authority by program table for all the existing and new programs envisioned in the new IC and best guess full mechanism
G) Please provide specific on the impact to intellectual rights within this new organization.
H) The letter notes the establishment is out of existing resources, please identify the specific sources — given the separate decisions to abolish
NCRR — please do not assume those resources are necessarily available for this purpose.
On the abolishing of NCRR — Please provide
A) What criteria or evaluation was used to determine the need to abolish NCRR and how do the other NIH ICs rank when applied to this criteria
B) Given the abolishment as of the end of FY 2011, what is the revised non-competing level to support current awards and how will the awards be
handled in the future?
C) What is the impact on FTE and programs — please provide specific planning details
D) Please confirm that new competing awards will not be made during FY 2011, if not please explain.
According to the NIH website that is solicitation on aspects of the more, indicates another new organizations was established call the interim
A) When was notification for this provided to the Committee?
B) What is the long-term plan?
C) How is it funded?
D) How many FTE — contract, loan, etc.?
E) Please provide details on the operational and scientific impact of this organization?
John J. Bartrum
House Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services,
Education, and Related Agencies
2358 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515