As government shutdown continues, research stalls; NSF furloughs staff and curtails services

The partial shutdown of the federal government is having a disproportionate impact on science, curtailing the work of government scientists and darkening federal agencies that fund college and university-based research—including many programs within tribal and Native-serving institutions.

“Thousands of scientists are among the hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors who must stay at home without pay,” according to a January 3 story in the Washington Post.

Many agencies are now managed by a handful of employees. At the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which is part of the Agriculture Department, all but four of the program’s 399 employees are furloughed, the Post reported.

Shuttered agencies include the National Science Foundation. There, 1,400 employees are currently furloughed, including staff within the Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP).

According to an NSF statement, “Ongoing operational and administrative activities will be minimal unless the suspension of these activities will imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property.”

During the shutdown, the NSF will continue to accept proposals, but “proposals will not be processed until normal operations resume,” according to the agency’s web site. Additionally, staff  “will not be available to respond to emails or phone calls.”

Some automated operations remain available, including processing of grantee-approved and NSF-approved no cost extensions through Fastlane. However, no payments will be made and the Award Cash Management Service is not available.

The NSF web site has additional information about programs and services during the shutdown.

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