In addition to a proposed cut of $7.2 billion, or 21 percent, from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) current budget overall, the Trump administration has included a suggested 10 percent cap on facilities and administrative (F&A) costs for NIH grants in its FY18 proposed budget. NACUBO sent a letter to congressional leaders and administration officials on the importance of F&A cost reimbursements to the vital research done at colleges and universities.
Support for the Trump proposal was widely touted by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price at a late-March appropriations hearing concerning the HHS budget. The rationale for the F&A cap, Price argued, is that the government should only be funding costs that are directly related to research. An F&A cost, in Price’s view, is “money go[ing] for something other than the research that's being done.” Both Price and President Donald Trump have stated that if NIH grants had capped F&A rates, NIH would be able to support the same amount of research with less federal money.
F&A costs are directly related to research done at colleges and universities. Without the existing negotiation system for F&A reimbursement rates, administrators would be forced to reevaluate the level of research their institution could support while maintaining economic stability.
Price came before a Senate appropriations subcommittee again on June 15 to discuss the HHS (of which NIH is a part) budget request for FY18. NACUBO, along with other associations including the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), and the American Council on Education (ACE), sent letters to Price, Director Mick Mulvaney of the Office of Management and Budget, and the chair and ranking member of the subcommittee, expressing strong concern about the proposal to cap F&A reimbursements.
NACUBO will continue working with other associations to strongly urge Congress to eliminate the cap from its final FY18 budget and to educate the administration on the mission-critical role that F&A reimbursements play in the research done on college and university campuses.