Thursday, March 8, 2012

Allocating Resources in Lean Times

Organizational officials are quick to acknowledge the strong connection between adequate resources and quality research programs. Even so, when money is tight, these officials have no choice but to deny requests for increases and, in some cases, to require cuts.

AAHRPP recently asked organizational officials how they decide which areas must make cuts and which will receive increases. More than two-thirds of respondents (66.6 percent) say they rely on objective data.

Several advise organizations to keep metrics on the performance of specific components of the human research protection program (HRPP) to support future funding requests. Others recommend bolstering requests for increases with objective information that shows how greater funding will meet “an identifiable need.”

Overall, AAHRPP posed 14 questions to organizational officials about the state of funding for their HRPPs. Following are some highlights:

  • Ninety-three percent of respondents “strongly agree” or “agree” that “a properly resourced HRPP goes hand in hand with a high-quality research program.”
  • Most set the bar for quality higher than the federal regulations. Fifty-seven percent say they “disagree” or “strongly disagree” with the following statement: “The HRPP should be supported only at a level that lets it conform to the regulations.”
  • One-third were able to increase their budgets last year, and one-third kept funding levels the same as the prior year. The rest made reductions.
  • Of those who made budget cuts, 60 percent acknowledge that the cuts “reduced the functionality” of the area or department that was affected. The remaining 40 percent say the functionality stayed the same.
  • Slightly more than half (53.3 percent) say their HRPP has appropriate funding; the rest say they are underfunded. None of the respondents consider their HRPP to be overfunded.
  • The vast majority (66.6 percent) rely on data to help make decisions about resource allocation, including increases and decreases to specific areas.

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