Office of Research & Engagement

UT Knoxville

Federal Budget Outlook


Watch this page for news and updates that may affect research-related activities at the University of Tennessee.

A look back at the 2013 shutdown.

What We Learned in 2013

  • Websites Go Dark:  Many sites that host information relevant to your solicitations may not be accessible after the shutdown. Please make sure to copy and save the following information prior to October 1:
    • A copy of your solicitation
    • Frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to the agency or solicitation
    • Other pertinent information
  • Keep working: If you are working on a proposal, please continue working towards the original deadline. Postponing work that needs to be completed—budgets, revisions, etc.—could cause your proposal to miss the deadline when the government shutdown ends.
  • Sponsors are Unpredictable: Each sponsor handled the shutdown differently. Some keep to their original deadlines while others allowed for additional time for submitting proposals once the government reopened.
  • Ask Questions: Our website will be updated continuously with Sponsored Programs related information. Please contact David Smelser ( if you have any additional questions about the shutdown.

Senate Passes Two-Year Budget Agreement

The Washington Post reports that the Senate approved a two-year budget agreement that, while not perfect, “would increase spending limits and avert a damaging default.”

Continuing Resolution Passes House and Senate

USA Today reports
that a funding bill has passed the House and Senate Wednesday, September 30, 2015 and need only be signed by President Obama before midnight to avert a lapse in federal funding.

Sponsored Programs Issues Federal Funding Update

David Smelser, assistant director of sponsored programs, issued a memo Wednesday, September 30, 2015, updating campus with the latest news and notices from federal agencies regarding the possibility of a federal government shutdown. Though a shutdown on October 1 is unlikely at this point, a continuing resolution will only fund the federal government through December 11, at which time, the following will still be relevant.

The following agencies have issued notices in the case of a lapse in appropriations:

National Science Foundation

  • Work may continue on all awards to the extent that doing so will not require federal staff intervention and that funds are available
  • No payments will be made during the funding hiatus
  • It is anticipated that Fastlane, NSF’s proposal submission portal, will be turned off, meaning no proposals may be created in their portal or submitted to the sponsor

Health & Human Services (NIH, CDC, HRSA, etc.)

  • Agency staff will not be available to provide routine administrative support services
  • Payment Management System will remain operational to continue processing grant drawdown requests
  • gov proposal submission system will be operational, accepting applications, and storing applications until agencies return to normal business operations

Department of Justice

  • Grantee activities already funded will generally be able to continue to the extent the grantee has funding available
  • Payment systems for reimbursement of grant related expenses will not be operational
  • Grant Management System will be shutdown, meaning the agency cannot accept proposals, progress reports, or Federal Financial Reports during the funding lapse

National Historical Publications and Records Commission

  • Grant activities may continue as NHPRC grant awards are fully funded
  • Agency will be unable to process payment requests until the government resumes normal operations

Should you have any questions about matters related to the shutdown, please contact David Smelser, assistant director of sponsored programs, at or 865-974-1840.

OMB Posts Contingency Plans

The White House Office of Management and Budget has updated the webpage listing Federal agency contingency plans from 2013. The website will be updated as more plans are posted.

NSF Issues Guidance for Possible Shutdown

The National Science Foundation issued a “Plan for Operations During a Funding Hiatus” document Friday, September 25, 2015. The plan, dated August 1, 2015, updates the 2013 contingency plan that NSF had posted following the 2013 government closure.

Vice Chancellor Urges UT to Prepare for Possible Federal Government Shutdown

Taylor Eighmy, vice chancellor for research and engagement, issued a memo Friday, September 25, 2015, urging the UT research community to prepare for a possible federal government shutdown and outlining possible impacts of the pending shutdown of federal spending on the various programs sponsored at UT by federal agencies.

  • Possible Stop Work Orders: During the FY13 shutdown, some agencies issued stop work orders for field research programs (e.g., U.S. F&WS). This impacted the pay for some graduate students and staff, but departments were able to temporarily cover those costs.
  • Proposal Submittals: Generally speaking, we anticipate that ORE would continue to process proposals and we would expect that will be maintained by the agencies so that proposals can be submitted. Like FY13, we would expect that they will be held in the queue and processed after the shutdown is complete. Other agencies that use web-based portals (e.g. National Science Foundation) may shutdown their websites entirely, meaning no proposals can be submitted to those agencies.
  • New Awards: We would anticipate that new awards are likely to be delayed until after the shutdown is over. In the event of a shutdown, please be very cautious about spending funds before an award document is received. All expenditures must occur in the period of performance.
  • Routine Administration of Grants and Contracts by the Agencies: It is expected that requests for re-budgeting, no cost extensions, award continuations, and other action decisions would be significantly slowed down.
  • Access to Federal Facilities: It is also likely that federal facilities may not be available during this time. Faculty should inquire directly with those facilities.
  • Availability of Funds:Most agencies would likely continue to allow automatic drawdowns. We do not anticipate any impacts relative to fund availability as long as the shutdown is minimal.

Read the full memo here.

White House Starts Shutdown Ball Rolling

The Washington Post reports:

The Obama administration has started formal preparations for a partial government shutdown next week, holding a conference call with senior agency officials and releasing a statement saying that “prudent management” requires that agencies get ready for a possible funding lapse.

Department of Interior Developing Contingency Plan

According to the Huffington Post, the Department of the Interior has begun to work on contingency plans in the case of a government shutdown come October 1. In 2013, much attention was directed toward the closing of the national parks.

“We profoundly hope there is no government shutdown. That is the basis on which we’re operating,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at a breakfast event Tuesday hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding areas were affected due to loss of tourism during the beginning of the 2013 fall foliage season.

Contribute to big ideas. Give to UT.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Big Orange. Big Ideas.

Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.