April 15, 2011

Impact of Possible Federal Shutdown on Sponsored Projects

The federal fiscal year (FY) began October 1, 2010, but as of April 8, 2011, the federal government had not yet approved a budget. Since October 1, funding for continued operations of the federal government required a series of Continuing Resolutions (CR) to avoid a federal shutdown. The last CR ended at midnight on April 8, 2011, and without a budget resolution or CR extension, a federal shutdown would have gone into effect.

Update (April 9, 2011): Last-Minute Agreement Averts Shutdown
Close to the April 8 midnight deadline, the Senate and House passed a short-term measure for an additional CR to keep the government operating until Friday, April 15. From the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) M-11-14, 2011 Anticipated Enactment of a Continuing Resolution:
“While the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires at midnight tonight, Congress has indicated that it has reached agreement on a funding bill for the rest of the fiscal year. Earlier this evening, the Senate passed a short term CR that will extend current funding levels until the full-year bill can be passed and enacted next week. We expect the House to take up the CR shortly and for the President to sign this CR no later than tomorrow. As a result, at this time agencies are instructed to continue their normal operations.”

Update (April 15, 2011): Congress Approves FY 2011 Spending Bill
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate approved the FY 2011 budget agreement, H.R. 1473, Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011. For an analysis of research and development funding in the 2011 federal budget, see the American Association for the Advancement of Science R&D Budget and Policy Program.

Campus investigators and staff should be aware that a shutdown may have some impact on federally funded projects, although in most cases, spending on existing awards may proceed as usual.
  • Work on federally funded projects can go forward as usual, unless the sponsoring agency issues a stop-work order. If a stop-work order is issued, the Sponsored Projects Office would receive a project-specific notification and inform the Principal Investigator and department. A stop-work order would be more likely for contracts rather than grants.

  • Extramural Funds Accounting will be able to draw down funds to cover expenditures on current awards.

  • Grants.gov and some other federal electronic systems will continue to operate, but help desks and administrative support activities will be significantly reduced.

  • NSF FastLane proposal preparation and submission will be unavailable.

  • Federal agency program officers and grants management staff will not be available to conduct routine activities in oversight, inspection, accounting, or administration.

  • New awards will not be issued by the federal agencies. Spending on awards or award modifications not yet received (new, continuing, or renewal) becomes the decision and risk of the PI’s department. Advance approvals for specific projects will be considered if endorsed by the applicable Dean, and should be at levels needed to initiate or maintain the project.

  • Award actions that are under negotiation (new, renewal, etc.) and multi-year contracts that end after the expiration of the CR, may be put on hold by the sponsor.
The guidance below (as of 1:30 pm PST on April 8, 2011), issued by federal agencies, provides more information, although much is primarily intended to address activities conducted by federal employees. This guidance is also linked on the SPO web site. As additional information is available, the SPO web page will be updated. If you have any questions regarding specific awards, please contact your SPO Research Analyst.

Federal Agency Guidance

Office of Management and Budget:
Agency Contingency Plans (links to contingency plans for agencies across the federal government)
M-11-14, 2011 Anticipated Enactment of a Continuing Resolution
M-11-13, 2011 Planning for Agency Operations During a Lapse in Government Funding

Department of Health and Human Services (including National Institutes of Health):
HHS Contingency Staffing Plan for Operations in the Absence of Enacted Annual Appropriations 2011
  • Grants.gov information (see page four of the HHS Plan): “HHS will maintain Grants.gov in an operational status to continue to post funding opportunity announcements and accept and process grant applications for fully funded and excepted programs, and to accept and store applications for non-excepted programs.”
National Science Foundation:
Assistance and Contract-Related Policy and Systems Issues During the Funding Hiatus

  • FastLane information (page one): “FastLane proposal preparation and submission will be unavailable. Grants.gov may be up and running, however, since FastLane will not be operating, proposal downloads from Grants.gov will not take place. Therefore proposals will not be checked for compliance with NSF proposal preparation requirements or processed until normal operations are allowed to resume.”
NSF Plan for Operations During a Funding Hiatus

NSF Twitter Account
  • April 8: “IN CASE OF SHUTDOWN: As of midnight, the NSF website, FastLane, Research.gov, any NSF e-mail address and all telephones will be unavailable.”
Department of Defense:
Deputy Defense Secretary Releases Shutdown Guidance

Information Regarding a Potential Furlough

US Department of Agriculture Shutdown Contingency Plans