Saturday, March 15, 2003

NIH'S GRANT PROGRAM UNDER SCRUTINY

Congress Probing NIH Management of Grants

WASHINGTON (Reuters Health) - The chairmen of a powerful House committee and subcommittee said late Thursday they are examining how the National Institutes of Health (news - web sites) manages its grantees, suggesting that there may be fraud or mismanagement of the billions of dollars Congress has given the agency in the last five years....

The congressmen noted that NIH has received large appropriations increases over the last five years, boosting the agency's budget from $13.6 billion in 1998 to $23.1 billion for fiscal 2002.

Given these increases, "the Committee is conducting an examination of NIH management and oversight of its federally funded research," wrote Tauzin and Greenwood....

The Committee also said it's looking into grants the NIH provided to the now-defunct Coulston Foundation. The Alamagordo, New Mexico-based center, which closed in September 2002, once housed hundreds of chimpanzees and monkeys.

The Foundation, which was targeted by animal rights and anti-vivisectionist groups, ended up being cited by the Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) and the Dept. of Agriculture for substandard care and other regulatory violations. It filed for bankruptcy after NIH ceased funding in July 2001.