Summary of Activities that Continue
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) activities that will continue are centered mainly on the ongoing operations at its biomedical research hospital, the NIH Clinical Center, to maintain the safety and continued care of its patients. These patients are part of research focused on fostering fundamental discoveries, innovative research strategies, and improving human health.
NIH will provide basic care services to protect the health of NIH animals, and retain staff to safeguard ongoing experiments or operations, as well as facilities and infrastructure.
Summary of Contingency Staffing Plan
In the event of a lapse in appropriations, 4,427 (approximately 22.4%) of NIH staff will be retained. This total includes 177 exempt staff (slightly less than 0.9%) whose activities or positions are already funded or otherwise exempted, as well as 4,250 (nearly 21.5%) who are excepted given their activities are deemed necessary by implication or for the safety of human life or protection of property.
A total of 177 (0.9%) NIH staff will be exempt. This estimate includes the recently appointed Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The other Presidentially appointed position, the Director of the NIH, remains vacant, although a candidate has been nominated. Another 176 employees would be supported by unobligated balances (carryover) from no-year or multi-year accounts such as 21st Century Cures Act (CURES) allocations. NIH will use the carryover funds to continue support for priority research projects, grants research oversight, and contracting activities that avoid negative impacts that would occur from interruption.
A total of 4,250 (about 21.5%) NIH staff are considered excepted and can legally continue their activities in the absence of appropriations. These staff fall into three categories; 1) those whose work is necessary for the safety of human life, 2) those whose work is necessary for the protection of property, and 3) those whose work is “necessarily implied” from the authorized continuation of other activities.
Excepted NIH staff will continue to perform vital tasks related to imminent threats to human life, by providing patient care. Patients receiving treatment at the NIH Clinical Center are participants in important investigational procedures, and often no other treatment options are available. Providing care to existing patients (inpatient and outpatient) will require the hospital to operate at least initially at approximately 90% of the normal patient load. NIH will continue to provide the right amount and type of staff to ensure the proper care of its patients no matter the percentage of patient load over time. The excepted staff in this category comprise the multidisciplinary patient care team needed for safe and effective direct patient care and support.
Excepted staff will also continue to protect government research property, animals, and inanimate property. Examples include on-going caring for and feeding any animals associated with research activities and maintaining research property used for ongoing medical experiments. These staff will also maintain cell lines and other invaluable research materials.
Additionally, staff will be considered exempt and continue to work if their duties are necessary to protect ongoing NIH experiments or operations or if they are needed for the orderly phase-down and suspension of non-funded activities. For example, NIH will retain personnel to maintain computerized systems supporting research and clinical patient care. Most of these excepted staff will keep the hospital data network, clinical research information system, picture archiving and communications systems, radiology information system, and other components directly related to the electronic patient medical record. A smaller group of excepted staff will continue to operate elements of the National Library of Medicine data center that interact with external biomedical databases essential for providing non-Federal health care.