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When Can You “Show Me the Money”?

December 4, 2015

We keep being asked by media: How much money will FDA receive when the FY 16 omnibus appropriations bill is finally released? We don’t know — the appropriations staffers we work with have been characteristically silent about the bottom-line numbers. Looking around town, we don’t see other groups learning their numbers any sooner than we do. We just have to be patient while Congress finalizes the omnibus package — both funding and riders. For now, all we can be sure is that appropriators have received our message that FDA is a core function of government and needs additional funds.

After denying foreknowledge of FDA’s likely appropriations numbers, media invariably ask us next: Are you optimistic? We say “Yes,” even though we have no way to judge whether we should be. We are relying on the strength of our case:

Food safety funding must be increased in FY 16 if the agency is to avoid falling further behind in implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Because of the House Cures and Senate Innovations efforts, we know there are medical product initiatives that Congress wants and FDA wouldn’t mind doing … but for which FDA lacks the resources. Some of those projects could get started, even without new legislation, if FDA receives increased FY 16 medical product funding.

The next step — whether it occurs late next week or early the week of December 14 — is the public release of the text of the omnibus. This may be accompanied by a House–Senate statement (equivalent to report language) or there may be descriptive summaries released by the committees and the committee-passed House and Senate reports will be the only report language.

When the numbers become available, you will hear quickly from the Alliance with news of how FDA has done. Meantime, here is a quick cheat sheet:

FY16 Cheat sheet

You may hear that FDA has received approximately $4.6 billion. Don’t get too excited. That number is merely the budget authority (BA) appropriation from the chart above, with $1.988 billion in projected user fees added on. The user fees are set by law, as adjusted by FDA’s request, and do not vary from the President’s budget request through to final Congressional action.

The real competition for federal resources is in the level of BA funding. Increasing such funding is the Alliance’s mission. Although we don’t know the final numbers for FY 16, we are optimistic that a larger increase is in FDA’s future.

Note: This week’s Analysis and Commentary was written by Steven Grossman, the deputy executive director of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.

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