Congress is pursuing a new strategy to block Reagan administration efforts to move the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from Rockville to Atlanta, home of its parent agency, the Centers for Disease Control.
Reps. David R. Obey (D-Wis.) and Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) have introduced bills that would take care of the matter by making NIOSH part of the Bethesda-based National Institutes of Health instead. Both congressmen contend that it makes more sense to put NIOSH, which does research on job-related health hazards, in the NIH than the CDC, which limits its work to contagious diseases.
Officials from the Health and Human Services Department caused a major flap last August when they announced they were moving NIOSH to Atlanta to "improve efficiency." The AFL-CIO blasted HHS, and Obey said the move, estimated to cost between $2 million and $15 million, may have been prompted because the man who had just been named NIOSH's director, Dr. J. Donald Millar, lived in Atlanta.
The agency has been in limbo since December, when Congress inserted language in the continuing budget resolution to prohibit HHS from spending any money to move NIOSH. Before Congress acted, a number of NIOSH positions were reassigned to Atlanta. Both bills are in committee.