The NRC blamed this situation on "current legislative uncertainties" concerning VA appropriations. Even with these difficulties, 20 projects approved by the CVMP were receiving VA funds in November 1947.24 In the absence of funds for more projects, Beebe and Ransmeir worked on perfecting administrative routines, such as grant application procedures and the mechanics of preparing rosters from Army and Navy files. Beebe, in particular, collaborated with project directors on improving the statistical design of the projects.25
Throughout this early period, confusion persisted about the committee's mission. How much time and effort were to go to medical follow-up, and how much to other activities? Dr. Paul Magnuson of the VA noted that his agency already had a Board of Professional Consultants; presumably, the CVMP should serve a different function. Placing heavy emphasis on medical follow-up, he thought that the committee should concern itself primarily with the "salvage of medical information from our experience in the war and overall guidance and advice in the medical research program." Committee member Francis Braceland admitted that this aspect of the committee's work had developed slowly and should be "more actively pursued." DeBakey agreed but noted that funding was problematic. Because VA rules allowed contracts to be let for only a year at a time, an investigator had no assurance of continuing support. This was an important consideration in studies involving lengthy efforts to locate records, find the participants, perform clinical procedures, collect data, and assess the results. Dr. E.H. Cushing of the VA chastised the committee for routinely approving the suggestions of other committees and not coming up with ideas of its own. Cushing and others felt that the committee had not done enough to push the idea of medical follow-up.26
A curious duality in the committee's work emerged. In March 1948, the committee announced a significant "reorientation" in its "program and outlook"—from follow-up studies to what it described as "the entire medical research program of the Veterans Administration, of which the follow-up studies constitute merely one significant part." At the same time, however, the entity now known as the Medical Follow-up Agency began to take shape. At the end of 1947, for the first time, an entity distinct from the Committee on Veterans Medical Problems appeared on an NRC organizational chart. The committee had made a real start toward assembling the staff and facilities needed for the follow-up projects.
A change in personnel had occurred already. On March 20, 1948, Dr. Ransmeir resigned, and was replaced by Dr. Theodore Moise, a Johns Hopkins medical school graduate and surgeon with a background in bacteriology and pathology. Bernard M. Cohen, a Ph.D. statistician, also joined the organization, initially on a six-month loan from the Department of Commerce.27 At the end of the year he was joined by Seymour Jablon, another applied mathematician. Both men, especially Jablon, would play major roles in the agency's history.