Do Different Expenditure Mechanisms Invite Different Influences? Evidence from Research Expenditures of the National Institutes of Health
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This study examines 1) whether the different expenditure mechanisms used by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) invite different sources of influences on the budget process and thus on the expenditure outcomes and 2) whether the frequent use of omnibus appropriations bills since 1996 has changed budget levels of the institutes under the NIH. The NIH uses two major expenditure mechanisms with very different beneficiary groups: the principal investigator-initiated Research Project Grants and Intramural Research. Drawing on theories of motivations of public officials and of political clout of agency heads and considering empirical studies of the effect of omnibus legislation, this study reveals the following: 1) directors with more public service experience are more successful in securing a higher budget for their institutes; 2) while the directors are found to be driven by public service motivation, when it comes to expenditure allocation between two different mechanisms, they behave in a self-interested manner, representing the interests of the institutional sectors where they have developed close relationships; 3) with ever-increasing budgets between 1983 and 2005, the institute directors have chosen to seek higher budgets rather than merely avoid the risk of budget cuts; 4) although the advisory boards are purportedly used to seek private input for the priority setting, they tend to increase intramural more than external research project grant expenditures; 5) the practice of omnibus appropriations bills significantly benefits the institutes under the NIH such that with omnibus legislation the institutes¡¯ total expenditures have more than doubled controlling the other factors; and 6) there are significant differences in the effects of the director¡¯s public experience and the number of advisory boards and their membership both (i) between disease-focused institutes and nondisease institutes and (ii) with and without omnibus legislation. The effects of the director¡¯s public service experience and the advisory boards have more budgetary impact in the general science-focused institutes than in their disease-focused counterparts. The influence of the advisory board and of the institute director¡¯s public service experience on the individual institute¡¯s expenditure level is significantly diminished by the frequent use of omnibus appropriations bills.