FDA holds off on job cuts, assures workers Congress will authorize user fees

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has told FDA workers the agency won't start sending out layoff notices before Sept. 30 because he is sure that Congress will reauthorize user fees before that deadline.

Thousands of FDA employees will get a reprieve instead of pink slips next week, as new FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb gave them encouraging news about the reauthorization of FDA user fees and their job prospects.  

Gottlieb told FDA workers in an email Monday that he is so confident that the user fees will be reapproved by Congress before they expire Sept. 30 that he will wait until then to send out required 60-day layoff notices, according to an email (PDF) obtained by and reported by Regulatory Focus.

He pointed out that the program has already been handily passed by the House and said that he has spoken with members of the Senate, “many of whom have expressed their high degree of confidence that FDARA will be enacted before the authorizations lapse.”

He also noted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had delayed the Senate August recess by two weeks so the body can continue to work on health-related issues. That, of course, refers to Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

This is a specter that has haunted the FDA before. A decade ago, then-commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach sent a memo that 2,000 workers would need to be let go if Congress didn’t renew fees for drugs and devices.

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control were affected by the government shutdown in 2013, but in that instance many jobs were spared because they were considered essential to the country’s safety and exempt from furloughs. Politics over the Affordable Care Act also factored into that situation.