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For 2018, Indirect Cost Rate Appears Safe, But Budget Battle May Reignite

NIH is not to tinker with the indirect cost rate structure, regardless of what the Trump administration thinks—at least not if key Congressional appropriations committees have their way. For universities and other federal awardees, this comes as a relief, as the White House and budget officials wanted NIH to adopt a flat 10% rate. But the battle may not be over.

HHS appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2018, which began Oct. 1, haven’t yet been adopted by the full House and Senate, so they’re not yet law. Like the rest of the federal government, HHS, which includes NIH, is operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that provides time-limited funding at FY 2017 levels, generally.

But Congress typically aims to pass full appropriations, or omnibus bills, as they are also called, that last for a full year or at least more than a few weeks or months.

On Dec. 14, NIH officials provided a FY 2018 update to the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), NIH Director Francis Collins’ highest ranking consultative panel. In some respects, facts presented were mostly positive pertaining to appropriations approved thus far, especially when compared to the budget that Trump requested. (For other stories from this meeting, see pages 1 and 4).

But for Collins, the jubilation has to be controlled, as no one knows what the future holds.

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