January 19, 2018

What Happens If the Federal Government Shuts Down?

What a federal shutdown will mean to federal grants and contracts at UC Berkeley depends on how long the shutdown lasts.

In October of 2013, the last time a federal government shutdown occurred, the federal government was shut down for 16 days.

Based on what occurred in 2013, government agencies that are deemed less essential for protecting life and property, such as the U.S. Department of Education and research agencies like the National Science Foundation, will order agency employees to stay home, i.e., they will be furloughed. The military and government agencies such as the postal service that are viewed as necessary to the security of the country will continue to operate.

With agency personnel furloughed, it will not be possible to communicate with federal sponsors by email or phone. It is likely that NSF FastLane and Reserch.gov as well as other federal agency portals will not be available. Based on past experience, proposals will not be accepted or reviewed and no new awards will be made during the shutdown. However, existing federal projects, in most cases, will continue to operate, and already authorized funding will not be impacted.

However, in 2013, NASA issued guidance that grants and cooperative agreements that involved active participation of agency personnel or access to agency installations funded by NASA would suspend work during a shutdown. Therefore it is important to stay tuned in to specific agency plans if a shutdown does occur.

SPO will make this information available on our website as we receive it. Please see the see Agency Contingency Plans on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) website. The page includes plans for agencies across the federal government and last date of revision, many current as of today.