DOING BUSINESS BETTER
Town Hall Updates Progress On ‘Optimize NIH’

NIH principal deputy director Dr. Lawrence Tabak at recent town hall on “Optimize NIH”
NIH principal deputy director Dr. Lawrence Tabak at recent town hall on “Optimize NIH”

At an NIH-wide town hall meeting on the effort to “Optimize NIH,” NIH principal deputy director Dr. Lawrence Tabak wanted to make one thing clear at the outset.

“There will be no reductions in force, so-called RIFs, as a result of this effort,” he said early and often throughout the hour-long event held Mar. 23 in Kirschstein Auditorium, Natcher Conference Center. “This is not about people losing jobs… Let’s put that out of play. That was the first principle we discussed with [HHS] as we’ve been working through all of this. The reason that was the first principle is because of
how highly we value our workforce and how
important all of you are to what we do here.”

Optimize is NIH’s response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ “Reimagine HHS” initiative to improve efficiency and effectiveness. HHS launched Reimagine in support of a directive from the Office of Management and Budget in early 2017 to make federal government “lean, accountable and more efficient.”

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‘OPTIMISM IS A MORAL CHOICE’
World Bank’s Kim Describes Conversion at Chat

Dr. Jim Yong Kim (r) of the World Bank
Dr. Jim Yong Kim (r) of the World Bank

Eighteen years before he was named 12th president of the World Bank Group in 2012, Dr. Jim Yong Kim was advocating for the bank to be mothballed; 1994 was the bank’s 50th year, and Kim thought an appropriate birthday gift that year would be to shut it down.

In those days, as one of the founders, along with Dr. Paul Farmer, of Partners in Health (PiH), a global health group with origins at Harvard University, Kim considered the World Bank a dinosaur. By insisting on strict repayment schedules, the bank was forcing poor countries that had borrowed money into austerity measures that hurt the poor. Desperately needed funds were taken from health care and education to pay back creditors.

In a chat onstage Mar. 12 in Masur Auditorium with NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, Kim described his conversion from M.D./Ph.D. anthropologist with front-line experience combatting infectious diseases among the world’s poorest populations to unexpected bank president whose keen eye for the needs of the world’s developing nations trumped his dearth of financial expertise.

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