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NIH Director's Corner

Next month, I will host my third Town Hall Meeting for all employees. As in past meetings, there will be an online opportunity for employees to contact me with questions and topics for discussion. We get literally hundreds of responses to this solicitation, and it is obviously impossible for me to address all or even most of the issues in an hour's time. But I want to assure you that all correspondence to my office is kept on file for reference. My staff can look back into these files and compare your concerns with how we as an institution have responded over time.

On the subject of A-76, which drew a great number of messages to me prior to the spring Town Hall Meeting, there is good news to share: last month, NIH's in-house proposal in the area of Extramural Administrative Support Services won the competition when the sole proposal submitted by industry failed to meet the requirements of the solicitation. This confirms what I have been asserting all along — our employees have little to fear in an evaluation pitting their expertise against what a contractor can provide. I am expecting more positive news as future competitions play out.

NIH director Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni
I know, too, that "victory" in these outsourcing competitions is not without cost for some of our workers. There will be cases where employees' job descriptions will change and new duties will be assigned to them. Quite often, NIH's "most efficient operation," or MEO, which is our most competitive self-description, involves internal shifts of responsibility. But be assured that NIH stands by the Secretary's commitment to have a job available for all employees affected by A-76 competition, and that we'll do all we can, via our Transition Center, to smooth the way when reassignment cannot be avoided.

You may have heard by now of the NIH Roadmap Initiative for Medical Research, which we announced on Sept. 30 in a variety of forums. As you know, we are at a turning point in medical research. The purpose of the NIH Roadmap was to identify the major scientific opportunities and gaps in medical research that no single institute or center at NIH could tackle alone, but that the agency needed to address to accelerate the pace of medical discovery and transform our findings into tangible benefits for people.

After wide consultation, within and outside NIH, the institute and center directors led teams that developed 28 specific initiatives in three main areas: new pathways to discovery; research teams of the future; and re-engineering the clinical research enterprise. The NIH Roadmap is an integral part of a well-thought-out portfolio of research to improve people's health in the 21st century. I extend my deepest appreciation to all of the NIH staff who devoted countless hours to this important effort. It demonstrates once again that NIH plays a leadership role in charting the future of medical research. For more information, please visit
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