Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a government shutdown?
Exactly what it sounds like. Much of the federal government gets its funding from annual budget appropriations decided by Congress. The majority of the government has such funding in place, but other agencies have been operating on a series of temporary extensions since the budget year began Oct. 1.
The latest extension expired December 21, 2018. Since funding wasn't enacted for these agencies, they were shutdown. Some of the employees working at those agencies will stay on the job nonetheless, while others will be furloughed. In both cases, they will be unpaid until spending authority is restored.
How does the shutdown impact the agencies I work with?
Each agency handles the shutdown differently and determines essential personnel differently. It is important that researchers continue to work until they receive specific information or instructions from their program officers. You can read about how every agency operates in a shutdown by looking at the agency contingency plans on the White House Office of Management and Budget website.
What agencies re-open and which are closed?
Unlike some previous shutdowns, the current situation is a partial government shutdown. The federal budget has already been funded for many of the agencies that sponsor activities at UAF such as the Air Force, Army, Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services. We expect those agencies will continue to operate and can be billed for sponsored operations.
The federal agencies facing a shutdown and impacting UAF include the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, NOAA, NIST, Agriculture, Transportation, Interior and the EPA.
We have provided a useful reference table (below) listing the agencies by the status of their appropriations.
For agencies without finalized budgets, only essential federal personnel are working, and each agency defines “essential” differently. You can see how every agency operates in a shutdown by looking at the agency contingency plans on the White House Office of Management and Budget website.
What is the impact on federally-funded research projects?
No new grants or contracts are usually awarded during a shutdown. Researchers can likely submit proposals, but they will not be reviewed until the government is operational again. A shutdown can also have negative impact on our research partnerships and collaborations with federal agencies.
Work may continue on most federally-funded projects that have already been awarded. Routine administrative and support services provided by federal agencies to grant and contract recipients likely will not be available.
Awarded projects may be disrupted during a shutdown if they are housed in a federal facility, if the project includes federal personnel, and/or if an award includes restrictive terms and conditions that require administrative action to approve a drawdown of funds.
Federal agency staff likely will not be available to approve no-cost extension requests, grant transfers, re-budgeting approvals or other actions requiring agency approval.
What can I expect as researcher or research administrator?
- Continue awarded research as usual unless otherwise advised by your agency or program.
- Funds issued to OGCA prior to the shutdown and post-awarded through OGCA continue to be available.
- Know that access to “New” or “Continuing” funds may be delayed.
- Know that communications with federal offices, including those by phone, email or via websites, will likely be delayed, or may not be possible.
- Continue to submit proposals to OGCA so that we can be responsive on your behalf as operations resume.
- Know that approvals of new applications will likely be delayed.
What about proposal submissions?
The websites of Grants.Gov, NSPIRES, Research.Gov/Fastlane, NIH Commons and ezFedGrants are accepting proposals during the shutdown; this means that it is likely that proposal deadlines will not be extended for agencies using these systems for proposal submissions. Please proceed with your proposal submissions in a normal fashion. Agency help desks are likely not operational if the agency is shut down. If you have questions, please contact OGCA.
Will the Federal shutdown change the sponsor proposal submission deadline?
OGCA recommends that you move forward as if the deadline is the same and submit to OGCA as you would normally. If a deadline is extended, applicants will be notified by the agency. Deadlines have not formally changed yet, any such changes will be communicated by the Federal agencies only after operations resume.
Are awards still being processed?
Since NSF, Interior and USDA are UAF’s largest funding agencies, OGCA’s receipt of both new and incrementally funded awards has slowed down. If your award is expecting incremental funding, it is probably safe to assume the funding will arrive late from any impacted agencies. As always, please be very cautious about spending funds before an award document is received. All expenditures must occur in the period of performance. Feel free to contact OGCA, if you have concerns.
Prior to the shutdown, I requested a no-cost extension (NCE), can my project proceed without the sponsor’s approval?
No. Projects cannot continue beyond the approved ending date. If the NCE must be granted by the sponsor your project cannot continue. Contact OGCA for further assistance.
How should I handle reporting requirements?
If possible, researchers should submit their technical/progress reports as their award stipulates. OGCA has learned that NOAA Grants Online has been disabled, so those reports cannot be submitted. The websites Research.gov and ezFedGrants are available for technical report submission, as is the NIH Commons website.
OGCA is continuing to submit financial reports and invoices as an award stipulates. We will be using the “Remarks” section on the reports to note submission during the shutdown.
What should I do if I receive a stop work order?
Should you receive any shutdown-related correspondence from the sponsor (e.g., stop work order), please immediately provide the information to your supervisor or principal investigator/researcher and OGCA.
However, because they effectively end or suspend the awards, costs associated with any work conducted after the notification will not be reimbursed. The OGCA will coordinate to address any problems that may arise from these orders.
Has UAF received any “stop work” orders?
At present, OGCA has received stop-work orders. If OGCA receives any guidance from the sponsoring entity, it will be shared with the researcher(s), the respective Department/Unit(s) and Human Resources right away. If the researcher(s) receives any information, please forward it to OGCA.