Budget and the National Cancer Program

Science  24 May 1974:
Vol. 184, Issue 4139, pp. 871-875
DOI: 10.1126/science.184.4139.871


The budget picture for the NCI is presented for your information and evaluation-evaluation in the sense that I need and would appreciate your comments. A major issue of course is balance, in terms of clinic versus laboratory; short-term versus long-term; academic versus commercial; targeted versus nontargeted; grants versus contracts versus intramural; national versus international, and the like. It must be recognized that within a program of this emotion, visibility, and importance scientific findings and other considerations will dictate changes on at least a monthly basis. Things other than science contribute to this balance. On any given day we live within the impact of at least three budget years (what we received and did last year, what we will receive and do this year, and what this will allow us to receive and do next year). The federal budgetary process as well as the priority-setting processes of science are such that new directions cannot be taken as qulickly as woLld be optimal.

Priorities muLst be set in cancer at least in their broad sense; for in addition to other areas of biomedical research, there are other compelling demands for the limited federal dollar. There will never be enouLgh resources to do all that can be done or needs to be done in cancer research. That probably is as it should be. In this regard it is heartening that operating funds for the institutes at NIH other than NCI will increase by $264 million in 1974. It is as true that information from research in other disciplines and categorical diseases will provide leads to cancer, as well as the reverse. And certainly, virtually no one wants to see resources for cancer increased at the expense of other important tasks and opportunities.

This article is not an attempt to justify or to defend the spending plan of the National Cancer Program. It is to let youL know what's going on and to seek further advice on how to do it better. Articles on other aspects of the program will be published in journals including Science, Cancer Research, and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.