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NIH told to probe growth of indirect costs

The congressional Government Accountability Office (GAO) is urging the National Institutes of Health to assess the impact of rising indirect costs on its mission to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems in order to improve and extend human health.

Specifically, the GAO wants the agency to plan how to deal with future increases in indirect costs that could limit the amount of funding available for research. Indirect costs cover general facility and administrative expenses and are paid as a percentage of certain direct costs of awarded grants.

In a report posted online on 31 October, the GAO said indirect cost reimbursements from NIH to universities had increased notably faster from fiscal years 2003 to 2012 than direct costs, at 16.9 percent and 11.7 percent, respectively.

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