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Freedom of Information Act Office

IC Directors' Meeting Highlights

November 29, 2006

To: IC Directors
From: Senior Assistant to the Deputy Director
Subject: IC Directors' Meeting Highlights — October 12, 2006

Discussion Items

I. FY 2007 Budget for Central Service Activities

Dr. Stephen Katz summarized activities of the Steering Committee Management and Budget Working Group (MBWG) in their efforts to assess Central Services costs and funding requirements for FY 2007 and to provide recommendations for next steps.

Cost Drivers of Central Services Funding:

  • Space - discussion of Central Services funding at the May Budget Retreat identified space as being the major cost driver. Acquisition of space, utilities, and maintenance all factor into those costs.
  • Rising Census levels - rising census levels are increasing the demand for other services, in addition to their corresponding need for increased space. This increase in cost is already a reality for the ICs as an increasing proportion of IR/RMS funding is being spent on Central service activities.


  • Many activities within Central Services are outside of MBWG control or cannot be anticipated during the budget formulation process.
  • FY2007 budget submissions include Central Service activities which are required and relatively inflexible (e.g. Smart Card Requirement).

The MBWG Budget Review process operated on the premise that the role of the MBWG is to integrate priorities and contained an appeal process after initial review to ensure that major issues were not overlooked. Funding recommendations included support for required activities and some equipment replacement and maintenance. It was recognized that some of the funding costs incorporates pass-through activities.

Overall the MBWG recommended an increase of 3.5% for Central Service activities that were considered to be "above the line" (i.e. of actual cost to the Institutes and not a pass-through activity), and 6.5% when all costs are included. This compares with an increase of 0.5% that is included in the President's Budget for Intramural Research and RM&S.

The Steering Committee agreed with the funding recommendations and asked that the MBWG coordinate a trans-Working Group effort to develop models to assess long-term Central Service cost issues.

II. Roadmap Initiative Updates and Modification Proposals

  • National Electronics Clinical Trials and Research (NECTAR)

Dr. Alving presented a proposal to develop a Clinical Research Informatics Center (CRIC) for coordinating informatics best practices among Clinical and Translational Science Awardees (CTSAs) and clinical research enterprise stakeholders. Stakeholders were identified on the federal, public, industry and NGO levels, with CRIC acting to proactively coordinate efforts on standards development and interoperability within the CTSA environment.

Concerns were raised that CRIC plans were too ambitious in scope given the proposed funding plan and immediate timeline. It was recommended that the proposal be refined to clarify CRIC activities and responsibilities. Dr. Alving will instead focus on coordinating the clinical research informatics among the CTSA institutions.

  • National Clinical Research Associates (NCRA) Program

Dr. Alexander provided highlights of the activities involving the NCRA program, summarizing results of the RAND feasibility study for NCRA program development. Outcomes of the RAND study are problematic for NIH within the current budget environment as the NCRA model would have high infrastructure costs and NIH management requirements, and would take 8 years to reach full implementation. Other options for implementation were discussed, including scaled-down versions for the RAND model; however, the strategic and tactical rationales for creating NCRA still exist.

As an alternative, Dr. Alexander proposed that the NCRA concept be piloted through the community engagement component of the CTSAs. An RFA would be issued, limiting the competition to CTSA institutions recently awarded in fall of 2006. Depending on the response, applicants to the RFA would join with NIH staff to develop a proposal to pilot the NCRA within the CTSAs for future Roadmap funding consideration.

IC Directors voiced their support for this alternative proposal, citing that projects often work well when they start small and with local demand. Concerns were raised that efforts from this pilot may not address clinical trials beyond observational studies, and that unless specialty rather than just generalist providers are included, the NCRA might not be broadly used across NIH.

Penny Wung Burgoon, Ph.D.
cc: OD Senior Staff

This page last reviewed on June 6, 2011

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