Turner bill provides oversight, transparency, accountability to NIH grant process

The EMPOWER NIH Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), would create inspection and transparency requirements for all grantees and subgrantees receiving government funds for research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“The U.S. had blind faith that all federal dollars for health research went to fight disease,” said Rep. Turner, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “However, the pandemic exposed how American taxpayers might have unknowingly funded dangerous research that put global health at risk.”

If enacted, the EMPOWER NIH Act, H.R. 4211, would require that NIH conduct an annual surprise in-person inspection of every grantee and subgrantee receiving a federal NIH award, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Turner’s office.

NIH also would be required to submit a report annually documenting the inspections and documenting the full grant proposals of each research project, the summary says.

Additionally, grantees and subgrantees that fail their inspection would lose their eligibility for five years, while those who knowingly impede the inspection for any reason would lose their eligibility for at least 15 years, according to the summary.

“My bill, the EMPOWER NIH Act, would create necessary oversight, transparency and accountability measures to the federal grant process,” Rep. Turner said. “By requiring surprise inspections and full reporting on use of funds, the EMPOWER NIH Act would apply President Reagan’s ‘trust but verify’ philosophy to research at home and abroad. 

“We have a responsibility to protect our researchers, our institutions, our citizens, and our nation, and this legislation takes an important step to safeguard our future,” added the congressman.