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FY 13 Appropriations and Cuts in Federal Spending

December 2, 2011

We need to count our blessings that FDA’s appropriation for FY 12 is set. While the $50 million increase is not as large as in some recent years, there are three very important aspects to keep in mind:

  • The agency was threatened with a $285 million cut and emerged from the process with a $50 million increase;
  • Very few programs within the five federal departments covered by the “mini-bus” appropriations bill emerged with any increase; and
  • Much of the government (including NIH and CDC) was not in the “mini-bus” and is still being funded under a continuing resolution at 1.5% below their FY 11 funding levels, with a strong likelihood that this will continue well into next year.

Thus, compared to other federal agencies (i.e., in relative terms), FDA is doing well.  Compared to the demands placed on FDA (i.e., in absolute terms), FDA is still struggling and will continue to do so unless budget increases continue.

Because of FDA’s inclusion in the “mini-bus,” we can focus exclusively on the next fiscal year before the President’s request comes out in early February. It has been several years since this was the case.

Having this time to prepare and position ourselves is pivotal: FY 13 appropriations will require even deeper cuts in federal spending. This is likely to be a two-level process. First, aggregate FY 13 appropriations must meet spending targets set by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Second, additional deficit reduction cuts are mandated in the amount of $1.2 trillion in 10-year program savings. These will be accomplished by across-the-board cuts (“sequestration”) on January 1, 2013 and will mostly hit discretionary domestic and defense spending … unless Congress passes legislation that would raise these monies by entitlement cuts or additional tax revenue.

In this budget environment, our key message is that FDA needs to be an exception to deficit reduction. This can be stated in both relative and absolute terms:

  • FDA needs to be a priority because of the essential services it provides in assuring safe foods and safe and effective medical products. If the scope of the federal government is significantly diminished, an intact FDA needs to be part of what survives.
  • No amount of internal economizing and prioritizing at FDA is going to generate the dollars and manpower needed to create a 21st Century regulatory agency, implement the Food Safety Modernizations Act, assure science-based, predictable decision-making on medical products, and deal with the burgeoning demands of globalization.

As we have delivered these messages to Congress, the public, thought leaders, and the media over the last 5 years, our greatest strength has been the unity of FDA stakeholders in support of increased appropriated funding for FDA.  This will be even more important in 2012.

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