December 20, 2018

What Happens If the Federal Government Shuts Down?

There is once again the possibility of a federal government shutdown. The deadline for averting a shutdown is December 21, 2018. If a shutdown occurs, it will be a “partial” government shutdown that it will affect some government sponsors and not others. For example, DHHS, DOD, and DOE appropriations are signed into law, but NSF, NASA, DOI, DOC, and EPA appropriations (as of this date) have not been finalized.

This means that these agencies will order agency employees to stay home, i.e., they will be furloughed. 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 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 by agencies subject to this partial shutdown. However, existing federal projects, in most cases, will continue to operate, and already authorized funding will not be impacted.

However, it is important to read agency specific guidance. For example, NASA's most recent guidance on shutdown procedures is that grantees and partners in cooperative agreements may be authorized to work under a CR continue at their normal level of operations as long as funds already obligated remain available, the work does not require access to a NASA or other closed Government facility, and the work does not require any civil servant oversight or other government support that would be funded by a lapsed appropriation. NASA also states that it still may be necessary to suspend or reduce planned work during a funding hiatus.

What we know now about federal agencies and their contingency plans for shutdown is posted on the SPO website. We will update this information as we receive it. Please see the see the Federal Agency Contingency Plans on the OMB website for information on plans for agencies across the federal government.

January 19, 2018 Research Advocate: What Happens If the Federal Government Shuts Down?