NIH Should Close Montana Facility to Pay for $1.3 Billion of Repairs | Citizens Against Government Waste

NIH Should Close Montana Facility to Pay for $1.3 Billion of Repairs

The WasteWatcher

A new congressionally mandated report, released Monday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, recommends that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) get a “substantial infusion of funding” to address the “deteriorating condition” of many of its facilities.

The report suggests that Congress provide $1.3 billion in new funding over several years to address buildings and facilities at the NIH’s main campus in Bethesda, Maryland.  The $1.3 billion would cover the NIH’s “Backlog of Maintenance and Repair” which includes upgrading power and water distribution systems,  roof repair and leak mitigation, road and parking improvements, and enhancing security infrastructure.

The report also recommended the NIH revise how it determines which construction projects are prioritized, and it suggested the NIH better integrate its strategic research plans with its facility management plans.

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has routinely criticized the NIH for spending taxpayer money foolishly, and the National Academies’ recommendation for the NIH to better integrate its research with its facility management is a welcome one.

CAGW’s 2018 Prime Cuts recommends that the NIH close its Rocky Mountain Laboratory located in Hamilton, Montana and fold that research into the main 310-acre Bethesda campus.  Closing this redundant support facility would save over $3 billion in one year and more than $15 billion over five years – more than enough money to cover the NIH’s needed facility maintenance. This recommendation would also be in line with the report’s suggestion that the NIH enhance interactions and collaboration among research personnel and partners through shared space and facilities.

Instead, House Democrats are proposing another $2 billion increase for the NIH for fiscal year 2020.  The Senate has yet to draft its FY 2020 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill.

The NIH is the nation’s premier biomedical research agency tasked with finding new ways to prevent disease and disabilities. It is spread out over 27 locations and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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