WASHINGTON—Recent increases in the number and type of longterm grants from the National Institutes of Health may intensify competition between new awards and grants continued from previous years. But officials say the self-limiting nature of the new longterm grants and new institute controls should prevent problems that forced elimination of seven-year awards in the 1970s.

“In any given year, about 85 percent of the NIH budget is a commitment [to grants] from previous years,” noted Norman Mansfield, director of the NIH division of finance management. The balance between funding new grants and continuing support for grants in their third, fourth or fifth year is “a delicate tradeoff,” he said.

According to William Goldwater, director of NIH’s extramural programs management office, the White House Office of Management and Budget is concerned about a growing commitment for continuing grants. He said such concerns explain “why NIH is very discreet” in its small...

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