Regarding the potential federal government shutdown

Update Friday, Feb. 9: Congress passed the funding bill early today, ending a brief government shutdown and the series of continuing resolutions.

OHSU leaders are closely following the federal budget negotiations. Lawmakers have until midnight tonight, Feb. 8, 2018, to pass a budget deal and avoid a shutdown. As of now, there is no deal.

Preliminary information on operations during this potential shutdown has not been made available. However, prior to the Jan. 19 shutdown, the Office of Management and Budget published the 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 contingency plan for the Department of Health and Human Services details how it will staff and operate services during the shutdown.

Updates will be posted here as they become 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, prior to the previous shutdown. Our understanding of the impacts of a potential shutdown remains the same.

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 OPAMand 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.
  • 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