publication date: Jan. 31, 2014


By Paul Goldberg

Congressional appropriators instructed NIH to cut spending on communications activities and coordinate the broad range of activities that fall under the category of public relations.

The mandate is a part of the report that accompanied the recently passed appropriations bill.

The report states: “The NIH has an important role in communications activities. The NIH Director is expected to develop an NIH-wide process to reduce duplication of effort, consolidate, improve efficiencies, improve coordination of messages and generally reduce costs in this area.”

The reports that accompany the appropriations bills don’t have the force of law, but agencies that ignore such mandates do so at their peril.

The language is the result of an unusual—and likely unprecedented—investigation by the majority on the House appropriating and authorizing committees.

The investigation, publicly announced in a letter April 12, was started in response to a series of stories in which The Cancer Letter examined the cost of cancer communications.

Altogether, NIH spent $181.3 million on communications in the 2012 fiscal year, and NCI was by far the largest spender on campus.

The cancer institute spent $46.2 million on cancer communications that year. However, NCI Director Harold Varmus cut the budget by about 15 percent in 2013, as part of his response to sequestration and questions from Congress. He was expected to cut another … Continue reading 40-05 Cancer Communications: The Cost

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