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Government Shutdown Impact

Our office has received a number of questions about the effects of a government shutdown. Although Congress reopened the government after a brief shutdown earlier this week, the new agreement lasts only until February 8. In case a new shutdown situation arises, we want researchers to know how they will be affected.
  1. The impact tends to be minimal if the shutdown is brief.
  2. During a shutdown, federal funds already approved for grants or student aid programs continue to flow. Current grants are not affected, to the extent that budgeted funds remain and the time period for their expenditure remains in effect. Researchers should not experience problems paying project personnel, ordering supplies, and conducting normal operations.
  3. Reimbursements or requests for payments only occur for those sponsors utilizing the electronic payment systems that process payments without human intervention and which do not require specific approvals.  Payment requests requiring prior review, specific approvals, or that are presented for payment outside of an automated payment system will not be processed during a shutdown. For short-term shutdowns, this does not present a substantial issue for K-State.  Longer-term shutdowns require proactive monitoring to assess cash balances.
  4. New awards, continuations, or award add amounts will not be issued during a shutdown.  This could affect ongoing projects and will require close interaction with departmental and college business officers, PreAward Services, and Sponsored Projects Accounting.
  5. Some agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control, maintain some essential staff and operations, but most peer review processes will cease during a shutdown, thus delaying scheduled review panels and subsequently slowing down the process of awarding new grants after the shutdown ends.
  6. Funding agencies generally do not maintain websites and social media during a shutdown.
  7. Data download from federal agencies could be affected during a shutdown.

Specific effects at K-State may include the receipt of “stop-work orders,” which requires K-State to cease activities associated with a particular contract until further notice, or determinations regarding employees that are on assignment at government installations that results in furloughs or stop-work orders. In the case of cooperative agreements, a curtailment of project activities may be required if substantial involvement of government sponsor employees or access to government installations, IT systems, or the like is required. 

The Office of the Vice President for Research will continue to work to develop and prepare proposal packages for submission, and these will be held in a queue until submission portals reopen and revised submission dates are received from the federal government. Sponsored Projects Accounting will ensure that all eligible requests for payments are submitted to the federal government in advance of anticipated shutdowns.

Many resources are available that detail agency-specific standard operating procedures in the event of a government shutdown. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a memorandum to federal departments and agencies that includes useful FAQs regarding grants and contracts. You will find those in Section II, pages 3-9, of Planning for Agency Operations during a Potential Lapse in Appropriations (PDF).

Another resource, OMB Agency Contingency Plans, provides guidance for a substantial number of federal agencies.

In addition to the above, federal agencies will distribute agency-specific guidance to their grantees on a “just-in-time” basis regarding program/project-specific guidance and determinations. This information is passed on to appropriate K-State researchers and support units as it is received.

If you have specific questions regarding the effect that a shutdown will have on your project, you may email the Office of PreAward Services at research@ksu.edu for proposal and/or award questions. Email the Sponsored Programs Accounting Office at spaaccts@ksu.edu for payment related questions.

Research Spotlight

Raymond "Bob" Rowland, Kansas State University professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, has created a way to protect swine offspring from the devastating PRRS virus during reproduction.

Seek research magazine cover

Read Seek, K-State's flagship research magazine