Update regarding federal government shutdown

Updated Monday, Jan. 22 at 5 p.m.: The Senate and House have passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through Feb. 8. The shutdown will end once it is signed by President Trump with government offices expected to open on Tuesday. Lawmakers now have three weeks to pass an appropriations bill to avoid another shutdown.

Updated Friday, Jan. 19 at 5 p.m.: At this time Congress has failed to reach an agreement, although there may be resolution tonight or over the weekend. Preliminary information on operations during a potential shutdown was made available in an Office of Management and Budget memorandum, “Planning for Agency Operations during a Potential Lapse in Appropriations.” This document includes FAQs regarding grants and contracts. You will find those in Section II, pages 3-9. Specific agency contingency plans have also been posted. The guidance document indicates that in case of a shutdown, employees are to report to work on Monday to begin shutdown operations. We will update this post as information becomes available.

The following message from Peter G. Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D., Interim Senior Vice President for Research, was posted at 9 a.m. on Friday, January 19, 2018.

Dear colleagues,

This is to let you know that OHSU leaders are closely tracking current federal budget deliberations in Washington, D.C.

Should Congress fail to agree on a budget by midnight tonight, Jan. 19, 2018, the federal government will see a shutdown of uncertain length, which will affect research and other activities. During previous shutdowns, most research activities were classified as ‘essential’ and were sustained, but the current situation is opaque and fluid, and the impacts are difficult to predict.

During the most recent shutdown, in 2013, NIH and other federal agencies provided guidance about how to navigate the cessation of federal activity. No such guidance has been forthcoming this time. We believe the following will apply:

  • The vast majority of NIH’s extramural staff will be furloughed and unable to provide administrative and programmatic support services to extramural grantees. This will likely apply to other federal agencies as well.
  • PIs can continue spending on grants as awarded during the FY 2017 grant year budget or awarded to date in FY 2018.
  • In the past, clinical trials have been considered ‘essential,’ as have student financial aid, VA operations, Medicare, and Medicaid. We do not know if these categories will be affected this time.
  • PIs should not make any spending changes that would require NIH approval, since agency staff will not be available to approve changes or otherwise provide administrative support. If you change your budget without approval, there is no guarantee that such expenditures will be reimbursed.
  • Federal contracts may be disrupted, and while grant budgets are somewhat protected, contract budgets are more vulnerable: If you receive a stop work order, you should follow it, because you may not be reimbursed for any work carried out during a shutdown. If you receive such an order, please notify your partners in OPAM and they will help you execute the order.
  • Fully executed subcontracts for FY2018 should not be affected.
  • No pre-spending will be allowed on grants that were favorably reviewed but for which you have not received a notice of award.
  • Grants.gov itself may continue to operate under a government shutdown, but the NIH Office of Extramural Research discourages submissions and no applications will be processed.

A major caveat is that this is an extremely fluid situation. We will keep you apprised of new developments as they unfold.

Peter G. Barr-Gillespie, Ph.D.
Interim Senior Vice President for Research


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