Does Dr. Fauci still work at the NIH?
Dr. Fauci may stay around a bit longer, in line with a pattern of shuffling NIH doctors around at the end of their careers.
But according to sources at the NIH, he may still be a federal employee.
Once source close to the matter told me that the White House made the decision to keep Dr. Fauci employed by the government in order to keep his security detail of U.S. Marshals. The former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has received death threats, including one that was believed to be an intercepted plot to harm him.
While it is unclear if Dr. Fauci still works at NIH, the only thing that is clear is that there is little transparency as to when his last day was, or will be, on the government payroll. And, if he is still a federal employee, his job description and salary are unknown. Fauci’s 2021 salary was listed at $456,000.
The NIAID media office has not responded to my inquiry about whether he was still a federal employee. Dr. Fauci’s name is still active in an internal directory of NIH employees, which staff tell me is normally kept up to date.
In reviewing Fauci’s statements about his last day, it appears he may have never actually said he was leaving government by the end of the year (2022), but instead that he was ‘stepping down.’ The New York Times wrote late last month that December 31, 2022 was his “last day as a federal employee,” but Dr. Fauci himself simply referred to his moving on to his ‘next phase.’ “While I am moving on from my current positions, I am not retiring” he said in an August 22, 2022 statement, adding “After more than 50 years of government service, I plan to pursue the next phase of my career.” Conversely, he has also said that in his ‘next chapter’ he’d like to do things that he can’t do in government.
Some staff at NIH are simply frustrated by the idea that the 82-year-old former NIAID director is part of an inside network of legacy government players that are ‘taken care of’ by each other. If Dr. Fauci is still “on the books” it would be in line with a pattern of older NIH scientists being shuffled around government at the end of their career.
NIAID’s most recent chief of viral diseases, 85-year-old Dr. Bernard Moss, who just stepped down from his leadership role, still works at the agency. And Dr. John E. Bennett, who will turn 90 this year, also still works at NIAID as an infectious disease scientist. I am one of many doctors who believes that both of these scientists had meaningful contributions to medicine, but keeping an old guard in power crowds out fresh new ideas.
Last year, Dr. Francis Collins (age 72) stepped down from his role as NIH director and soon after was named co-head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Dr. Collins is also still working in a lab at the NIH after serving as director of the agency for 12 years. Drs. Collins and Fauci had a famous email exchange in which Dr. Collins called for a swift and devastating take down of a proposal by Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and other prominent scientists to keep schools open and use a targeted protection strategy to Covid restrictions. A new batch of Twitter files to be released this week are expected to shed more light on their censorship efforts.
There may be a strong argument for keeping Dr. Fauci on payroll as the only way to legally provide him taxpayer-funded security. But the agency’s pattern of shuffling legacy scientists around at the end of their careers may not be the best stewardship of scarce research dollars.
“The old guys never leave,” one younger NIH scientist told me. Senior scientists staying in their leadership roles for decades also prevents upward mobility of younger doctors, the scientist pointed out.
While I have had disagreements with Dr. Fauci on medical science and public policy, there is nothing criminal about Dr. Fauci staying on as a federal employee after stepping down as the director of NIAID. In fact, it may be a legitimate way for ensure his safety with a security detail. But given the tremendous distrust in health officials right now, it would be good for the public to have some transparency and clarity about who carries clout at NIAID today and what taxpayers are paying for.