Chairs Rodgers, Guthrie, and Griffith Statement on NIH Plans to Update Subgrantee Regulations
NIH Announces Intent to Increase Oversight Standards After Years of Pressured by E&C Republicans
Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) issued the following statement after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a public comment period for plans to update guidance regarding how grantees must conduct oversight on its subcontractors. This announcement followed years of pressure from E&C Republicans for the NIH to properly oversee and assure accountability for taxpayer-funded research:
“The American people deserve to know what research their tax dollars are funding. Further, research integrity and independent verification are critical for the foundations of science, as well as for the NIH to be a good steward of funds. Grant recipients must be responsible for obtaining all relevant documentation—such as lab notebooks and data—to verify that experiments by subgrantees were conducted soundly and in a safe manner. Those that fail to do so should not remain eligible to continue receiving taxpayer dollars.
“This announcement appears to be a positive development from the NIH. As we move forward, the Committee has outstanding requests for documents and information, including related to taxpayer-funded research performed in China. We will continue to hold the NIH accountable so the American people can rest assured they are getting the best return on investment.”
Under the proposed guidance, NIH grant recipients would be responsible for obtaining lab notebooks, data, and documents from each subgrantee at least every six months, and more frequently if the subgrantee is engaged in potentially risky research. This guidance is ostensibly set to rectify scenarios like that of EcoHealth Alliance's (EHA) failure to collect such information from the Wuhan Institute of Virology or turn in progress reports on time.
E&C Republicans have on many occasions pressed the NIH for answers as to why EHA failed to do so, why they were permitted to remain an NIH grant recipient, and why its funding—which was temporarily suspended—was reinstated.
The Department of Health and Human Services echoed similar concerns in a January 27, 2023, Inspector General report that determined “NIH did not effectively monitor or take timely action to address [EHA] compliance with some requirements.”