publication date: Oct. 10, 2014

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By Paul Goldberg

What’s the NCI director’s professional judgment of opportunities in cancer research at a time of shrinking budgets, sequestration and conclusion of the windfall of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act?

Under ordinary circumstances, this question wouldn’t have required a mind reader. The NCI director has an authority no other government executive enjoys: every year, he submits a summary of scientific opportunities directly to the White House, bypassing review by the NIH director and officials at the place ominously called “downtown,” the brutalist-style HHS headquarters at the base of Capitol Hill.

This privilege, created by the National Cancer Act of 1971, has been a part of the political landscape since 1974.

Yet, today, as Congress stands poised to battle over budget priorities for fiscal 2016, the NCI bypass budgets for FY 2014 (the year gone by), and FY 2015 (the current fiscal year), are missing. They haven’t been published.

Some Capitol Hill insiders say that the absence of a clearly stated vision from the NCI director is all the more disappointing since, for the first time in its history, NCI is led by a Nobel laureate, Harold Varmus.

The bypass budget is a unique authority. Under normal circumstances, government officials are precluded from asking for more money than what the president’s budget proposal allots to them. The only exception to that rule is the NCI bypass budget. And, with the appropriations process on Capitol Hill getting streamlined, the bypass budget has become one of … Continue reading 40-38 NCI Failed to Publish Two Bypass Budgets As Sequestration Set In and Funds Tightened

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