Federal Government Shutdown


January 17, 2019

The partial shutdown of the US federal government continues, and the impact on research is growing.

The Scientist reports on the impact of the shutdown on young scientists

It’s business as usual in the lab where postdoc Erika Calvo studies brain regeneration in zebrafish after injury at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. But because Calvo’s position is funded by an NSF fellowship, she hasn’t been paid since December, and won’t get a paycheck again until the agency reopens. She doesn’t think the terms of her fellowship require her to keep working without pay, but she can’t clarify that with her contacts at NSF, and has stayed on the job.

Science reports on impact of the shutdown on graduate students waiting to hear from NSF about Graduate Research Fellowship awards:

NSF’s closure is also creating anxiety for would-be graduate students hoping to win a prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) from the agency. Last year, the agency received more than 12,000 GRF applications and gave out 2000 awards, which provide graduate students with a $34,000 annual stipend for 3 years. Managing that massive operation requires sticking to a tight schedule. Some 2000 reviewers had already agreed to serve on about four dozen virtual panels set for later this month. But if NSF remains closed, those panels will not be able to meet.

January 11, 2019


  • "Early-career scientists are among the most vulnerable to the disruptions in research and loss of pay that a shutdown can bring," Nature reports.
  • Science writes about the impact of the shutdown on post-docs. "'In a moment's notice, I went from believing I had secure income to not knowing when I would be paid,' says Marshall McMunn, an ecologist at the University of California (UC), Davis, on an NSF postdoctoral fellowship. He can't even find out whether it's OK to take a part-time job to help pay his bills." 
  • "For each week of a shutdown, NSF falls behind about 4 weeks in the process of evaluating and funding research proposals," according to Eos.


January 3, 2019

The partial federal government shutdown entered its 13th day as a new Congress started session.

The US House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation today, one that would fund eight out of nine departments (including the National Science Foundation) through September 30, 2019, and another that would fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 8, 2019, the USA Today reported.

The Office of Management And Budget (OMB) issued a "Statement of Administration Policy" stating that if the if the legislation "were presented to the President, his advisors would recommend that he veto the bill."


December 27, 2018

The partial federal government shutdown will continue through the start of the New Year, several media sources reported on Thursday.

According to reporting in the Washington Post, "Behind the scenes, Democratic aides were working to draft legislation to reopen the government once they take over the House on Jan. 3."

On Thursday morning, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) tweeted sample letters for federal employees on furlough to use when working with creditors.


December 22, 2018

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued its guidance on the partial shutdown that started at midnight today.

Science reports on the impacts on those federal science agencies affected by the shutdown:

“‘There will definitely be a disruption in the grantmaking process,’ says Amanda Greenwell, head of NSF’s Office of Legislative and Public Affairs in Alexandria, Virginia. It also means scientists and university administrators won’t be able to talk with NSF program managers if any questions arise about NSF-funded research. But NSF has no in-house labs, Greenwell noted, and the contractors that run major NSF-funded facilities such as observatories and research vessels have enough money in their accounts to weather a short-term shutdown.”

In a tweet, CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju observes:

“With the Senate not planning on returning until the 27th, that means the shutdown is poised to last at least six days, the longest of the three shutdowns in Trump’s presidency. And raises the likelihood it lasts at least until Jan. 3 when Dems take power in the House”

December 21, 2018

    • Not all federal science agencies would be affected by a partial government shutdown. Agencies whose appropriation bills have not been passed as off today would be impacted. These agencies include the National Science Foundation and NASA.  Appropriations are already in place for the Departments of Defense, Education, Energy and Health and Human Services (including the National Institutes of Health). 
Agencies with FY2019 appropriations Agencies whose appropriations bills have not yet passed
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services (includes the National Institutes of Health)
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce (includes NIST & NOAA)
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of Interior
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of State
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of the Treasury
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation