The NIH works as well as it does because the money is mostly protected
from Congress. It is not a success which can easily be replicated. The
more money is at stake, the more Congress wants to influence
allocation. We should guard this feature of the system jealously and
try to learn from it. If we can.
I had not ever thought about it this way, but this is probably a correct observation about government: The more money in a program, the more likely it is that Congress will want to direct that money to take political credit for it and reward their cronies, and therefore the more likely the program is to fail.