Health and comparative-effectiveness research saw a heady $8.6 billion influx in federal funding when Congress passed the 2009 economic stimulus bill. But that boost, of which $7 billion had been awarded as of April, was temporary. For the federal fiscal year that begins in October, scientists who seek funding from the National Institutes of Health may see a spike in rejections, according to a new Government Accountability Office report (PDF).
Recovering from the Recovery Act
NIH officials used stimulus funds to boost funding to scientists with existing grants ($1.9 billion, as of April), award grants to those who had previous applications rejected (nearly $2.7 billion), and give funding to those with new proposals ($2.4 billion), the GAO report said. On average, the grants as of April were $492,000 and roughly one in four was $623,000 or more. Some grants lasted two years, but others were longer.
NIH officials told the GAO longer-term, stimulus-funded commitments could squeeze out grant seekers competing for the same money after stimulus money dries up. Scientists who won grants during the stimulus boom years may return for more, increasing competition. The report notes NIH officials have dubbed the end of stimulus “the cliff effect.”
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