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E&C GOP Leaders to NIH: Why Hasn’t the Scientific Management Review Board Met Since 2015?


07.21.22

NIH has Failed to Comply With the NIH Reform Act of 2006

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA) sent a letter to the Acting Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Lawrence A. Tabak asking why the NIH has failed to convene the Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) as required by the NIH Reform Act. 

As Stat News reported:

 

In their letter to NIH, the E&C Republican leaders write:

“According to a STAT review of agency records, the SMRB, tasked with making the NIH more efficient and more effective, “mysteriously stopped meeting seven years ago” and SMRB members do not know why. As noted by STAT, “the de facto disappearance of the NIH’s Scientific Management Review Board, critics charge, is emblematic of the agency’s broader reluctance to accept criticism and to modernize. Some science policy experts have argued lately that the NIH operates too slowly, funds research too conservatively, and labors under a bureaucratic structure that is cumbersome and unwieldy.” Further, by not convening the SMRB, the NIH is missing opportunities to address profound scientific management concerns such as what actions NIH is taking, or needs to take, to increase support for young researchers in the NIH intramural program.”

They ask Acting Director Tabak to explain and provide answers to the following questions by August 4, 2022.

  • Please explain why the NIH has failed to convene the SMRB since 2015. Who decided to stop convening the SMRB? When was this decision made? If the decision is in writing, please provide. If the decision is not in writing, why not?
  • Will NIH return to the U.S. Treasury the more than $2.9 million in funding that was not used for operating and supporting the SMRB?
  • Since the NIH has discontinued convening this board since 2015, how has the NIH used the $488,901 per year or $2,933,406 over six years?
  • Please name the NIH staff who were originally designated to be responsible for staff support of the SMRB. What have these designated staff been working on since 2015 instead of supporting the SMRB?
  • Will the NIH reconvene the SMRB, and if so, when?
  • Can you provide a list of all recommendations voted on by the SMRB and the votes with respect to each recommendation?
  • For those recommendations that were supported by the SMRB, please provide the status of implementation of those recommendations.

CLICK HERE to read the letter.

Press Release