Another federal budget on the books

In the closing days of 2019, Congress finished its work to pass a budget for FY2020 and the results for the biomedical research community are, once again, good. The budget for the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is increased by $2.6 billion, 7% more than the final FY2019 budget. This marks the seventh straight year of annual increases to the NIH budget.

The budget for the National Science Foundation (NSF) is increased by 2.5% to $8.3 billion. This increase was in line with the amount proposed by the Senate but far short of the 7% increase suggested in the House version of the NSF budget. Funding for the six research directorates was increased by 3%. Congress traditionally allows the NSF to determine how that increase is distributed among the six directorates.

Along with a sizable increase in funding for the NIH, its budget also includes important policy directives for the agency. Recognizing what it calls “rampant” sexual and gender harassment at academic institutions that receive NIH funding, Congress directed the NIH to treat harassment “with the same level of attention and resources as those devoted to other research misconduct.”

The final NIH report also addresses the research security issues that have been in the news. The NIH is directed to begin a “broad education campaign about the requirement to disclose foreign sources of funding and develop enhanced cybersecurity protocols.”

In response to a report by the National Academies of Science (NAS) that highlighted the serious need for repair of buildings on the NIH’s Bethesda campus, the final NIH budget includes $225 million for this purpose. This is only a $25 million increase from recent budgets and far short of the $700 million recommended by the NAS report. (See the December 2019 ASCB Newsletter for details.)

About the Author:

Kevin M. Wilson serves as Director of Public Policy and Media Relations for The American Society for Cell Biology. He's worked as the Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Robert Weygand (D-RI) and as a Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI). He has a BA in Politics and American Government from the Catholic University of America. Email: