BETHESDA, MarylandWith its budget frozen at last year’s level, National Cancer Institute (NCI) officials have cut back on the number of competing research grants awarded during the first 3 months of fiscal year 2003, which began last October 1.
The 107th Congress adjourned November 22, 2002, and with its passing, all bills introduced but not enacted during its 2-year session died. The House and Senate passed a continuing resolution that provided money to operate NIH and a number of other federal departments and agencies. However, that money runs out 4 days after the 108th Congress begins on January 7, 2003.
In all likelihood, Congress will pass another continuing resolution and eventually enact an NIH budget. Until that happens, NCI will continue to award fewer grants than it had planned on the basis of an anticipated higher budget for FY 2003.
The grant reductions are viewed as temporary, and the Institute plans to quickly expand its grant giving with the passage of a new budget. However, the grant reductions could become permanent for the current fiscal year if Congress fails to pass a new budget or enacts one at essentially the same amount as FY 2002, which was about $4.178 billion.
The NCI set basic guidelines to govern the temporary funding policy: Noncompeting research project grants (Type-5 grants) will be paid at the previously committed levels.
The "payline"the percentile of grants that received the highest ratings by peer reviewersfor investigator-initiated competing research program grants (R01s) was planned to be set at 20% based on the proposed budget (down from 22% in FY 2002). But the temporary payline for competing continuation research grants (Type-2) will be cut to 17.0% and for new competing grants (Type-1) to 12%.
"Any Type-2 R01s beyond the interim payline [17%] but within the 20th percentile with cash flow problems will receive interim funding through March," Stephen M. Hazen, chief of NCI’s Extramural Financial Data Branch, said at a meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board.