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GAO Report Urges NIH to Assess Impact of Possible Increases in Indirect Costs

November 8, 2013—The Government Accountability Office (GAO) Nov. 1 released a report on indirect cost (facilities and administrative cost) reimbursements from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to universities. GAO recommended that “NIH assess the impact of growth in indirect costs on its mission, including, as necessary, planning for how to deal with potential future increases in indirect costs that could limit the amount of funding available for total research.”

However, in a response to the GAO, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that NIH already assesses the total costs of research, both direct and indirect. The department also sharply disagreed with GAO’s analysis of the indirect cost reimbursement data.

HHS said, “From our analysis, we found that as a percentage of all research grant obligations, indirect costs to universities have actually decreased slightly, from 21.6 percent in FY 2002 to 21.4 percent in FY 2012.


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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
Senior Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806