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  • Washington Highlights

    GAO Issues Report on NIH Progress Toward Research Workforce Diversity Goals

    Amanda Field, Specialist, Science Policy

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) August 10 published a report titled “NIH Research: Action Needed to Ensure Workforce Diversity Strategic Goals Are Achieved,” mandated by the 21st Century Cures Act [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 9, 2016].

    In the report, the GAO assesses the progress of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Next Generation Researchers Initiative (NGRI) [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 8, 2017],to support early-career researchers and to increase diversity in the biomedical workforce. The GAO performed an analysis on the success rates of NIH grant applicants among underrepresented races and ethnicities in the biomedical workforce, as well as women, from 2013-17, and found funding disparities for both groups. The GAO report acknowledges that the NIH has been making sincere efforts to correct these disparities, including establishing a Chief Officer of Scientific Workforce Diversity, who created a strategic workforce diversity plan that applies to both intramural and extramural research.

    The GAO report has one recommendation for the NIH: “The NIH Director should develop quantitative metrics, evaluation details, and specific time frames to assess its current efforts to support investigators from underrepresented groups against its scientific workforce diversity strategic goals, and use the results of its assessment to guide any further actions.” The report states that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reviewed a draft of the report, agreed with the recommendation, and outlined steps NIH is taking to implement it.