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Federal Budget Outlook

Watch this page for news and updates that may affect research-related activities at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, should a federal government shutdown occur.

What you need to know

  • 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 if you are working on a proposal:
    • 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. Check the specific agency’s contingency plans.
  • Ask Questions: Our website will be updated continuously with Sponsored Programs-related information. Please contact Jean Mercer (jmerce10@utk.edu, 865-974-2465) if you have any additional questions about the shutdown.

Recent Updates

February 2019

President signs bill to avoid shutdown
Congress passed a bipartisan bill to fund the government through the end of the federal fiscal year in September. Now, the nation waits to see if President Trump will sign it. The popular opinion currently is that the president will sign the bill to avoid a continued shutdown and then declare a national emergency to spend $8 million in funding on a border wall. The president is expected to make an announcement from the White House Rose Garden Friday.

January 2019

Update from NSF

“Important revisions have been made to the Resumption of Operations at NSF page on the NSF website, including identification of new deadline dates for specific solicitations and Dear Colleague Letters. This page will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.

“Policy-related questions regarding the resumption of operations at NSF may be addressed to policy@nsf.gov.”

Resumption of Operations at NSF

“A Resumption of Operations at NSF page has been developed that includes Important Notice No. 145, Resumption of Operations at the National Science Foundation, dated January 28, 2019, as well as supplemental guidance that addresses grant and cooperative agreement-related policy and systems issues. This page will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.”

OJP Operational through March 1
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) sent updated information regarding their operational status.

If the partial government shutdown does continue, OJP has sufficient resources to remain operational through 5 p.m. (EST) on Friday, March 1, 2019. This means that OJP staff will be available to assist grantees, stakeholders, and the public during this period. Likewise, OJP systems and services will be available. As an OJP award recipient, your organization should continue with your scheduled, federally-funded activities.

“While OJP remains operational, grantee payment requests received through the Grants Payment Request System (GPRS) will be processed and submitted to Treasury for payment on a daily basis.”

UT Supporting Students Unable to Get Federal Forms Due to Shutdown
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, officials are working with students who are unable to get federal forms related to their financial aid due to the government shutdown. UT officials received guidance from the US Department of Education late Wednesday afternoon and is in communication with affected students. The university is committed to supporting students who are unable to obtain necessary federal documents to ensure their coursework isn’t disrupted.

UT students with questions should call One Stop Student Services, 974-1111.

Agency Updates: NHPRC, NASA, OJP, NIH
Please see agency contingency plans for more information.

The extramural research community that both the NIH and Grants.gov remain operational during the current partial federal government shutdown.

For the duration of the shutdown, regular operations at the National Archives and Records Administration will be interrupted and the NHPRC staff will be furloughed. All existing NHPRC grant awards are fully funded. However, they will be unable to process any recently submitted payment requests or any new payment requests until such time as the National Archives receives its Congressional appropriation and they are fully operational again. NHPRC will not be able to review narrative or financial reports or respond to other grant-related questions. The National Archives will post a notice on www.archives.gov in the event of a lapse in federal funding.

If your institution’s grant or cooperative agreement requires access to a NASA facility or participation from NASA personnel in order to perform the instrument’s stated research objectives, the guidance in paragraph (a) below is applicable. If your institution’s grant or cooperative agreement does not require access to a NASA facility or participation of NASA personnel in order to perform the instrument’s stated research objectives, the guidance in paragraph (b) below is applicable to your institution.

  1. To the extent the subject grant or cooperative agreement includes work performed on-site at a NASA facility, the NASA facility will not be available for the performance of such work beginning on December 26, 2018.  Unless the Agency receives an additional appropriation on December 26, 2018, you are instructed to commence an orderly shut-down of your onsite operations and you are to preserve resources and take all actions necessary to minimize costs incurred under the subject grant or cooperative agreement during this Government shutdown.  This includes notifying your employees immediately of this orderly shutdown.
  2. Since your grant or cooperative agreement does not require access to a NASA installation, access to NASA IT resources and data, or participation of NASA personnel in order to perform the instrument’s stated research objectives, you are to continue to perform research under your grant or cooperative agreement as long you have available funding.  Special Condition § 1260.53Incremental Funding (for awards subject to 14 CFR Part 1260) or Term and Condition 1800.921 Incremental Funding (for awards subject to 2 CFR Part 1800) of your grant or cooperative agreement specifies the total amount of funding that has been allotted to your grant or cooperative agreement.  You are also reminded the Agency is not obligated to reimburse your institution for the expenditure of amounts in excess of the total funds allotted to this grant or cooperative agreement. Your institution is not authorized to continue performance beyond that period covered by the allotted funding and is cautioned to closely manage all available funding, as additional funding will not be provided while the Agency is without appropriations.  Any research performed during this time period should be carefully planned, taking into account that NASA technical and administrative personnel will not be available to support these activities during the Government shutdown.

Office of Justice Programs (OJP)
The Office of Justice Programs had sufficient resources to stay open through January 4, after which the OJP will cease agency services. Department staff will not be available to process requests received after that time. When Department staff return, payment requests received in GPRS will be processed.

Shutdown Enters Third Week, Agencies Feeling Bite
National parks and the Transportation Security Administration are just a couple of the agencies that have begun to feel negative impacts from the partial federal government shutdown. Parks are reporting that the lapse in necessary renovations may put progress behind by a matter of years. Though the TSA is required to work (without pay) during the shutdown, more agents are calling out sick resulting in longer, slower lines and delayed flights.

To read more about these agencies and more, visit CNBC.com.

December 2018

White House Issues Counter Offer
According to media reports, the White House has come down from their original request of $5 billion for border security. Budget director and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that the latest request is between the $1.3 billion that the Senate Democrats have offered and the $5 billion that the president has requested.

Mulvaney told the Washington Post Sunday that it is “very possible” that the partial shutdown will extend past the new year and into the new Congress.

Agencies Issue Guidances
Communication from the Office of Justice Programs:
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) has sufficient resources to remain operational through 5:00 p.m. (EST) on Friday, January 4, 2019. This means that OJP staff will be available to assist grantees, stakeholders, and the public during this period.  Likewise, OJP systems and services will be available.

Please note that during this time, the Grants Payment Request System (GPRS) will remain in service to accept grant payment requests.  The Department’s finance office plans to process a grant payment file early Wednesday morning, December 26th, which is expected to include any payment requests received in GPRS by 6:00 a.m. (EST)  that morning.  However, Department staff will not be available to process requests received after that time.  When Department staff return, payment requests received in GPRS will be processed.

If it appears that a lapse in FY 2019 appropriations will continue beyond January 4th, we will contact you regarding OJP’s operational status and any potential impact on our services and systems.

Communication from National Endowment for the Humanities:
The NEH and NEA will be closed during the partial shutdown.

Status of Current NEH Grants

Congress has already appropriated the funds to cover the grants that the NEH has awarded, so grantees will receive those awards. However, our understanding from past shutdowns is that payments will be delayed while the agency is closed and that it may take additional time to clear out a backlog even after the agency reopens. The Grants.gov portal will remain open and grantees with reports due during the shutdown should still meet those reporting deadlines. Given that bills already passed in the House and Senate contain a $2 million increase over FY 2018, we anticipate that once the appropriations impasse is cleared, the NEH will be in a position fund a full year of grants.

Additional Shutdowns

The Woodrow Wilson Center, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Park Service, and the National Archives, which houses the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), will all be closed.

However, earlier this year, two “minibus” appropriations bills were passed and signed by President Trump. They included level funding for Title VI and Fulbright-Hays as well as funding increases for the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the Library of Congress. Therefore, these agencies and programs will remain open during the partial shutdown.

A complete overview of our priorities’ funding, as it currently stands, can be found here.

Partial Government Shutdown in Effect
With the House, Senate, and White House unable to reach a compromise, several federal agencies find themselves in shutdown mode this morning. As of midnight Saturday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are either furloughed or working without pay. Those working without pay will be reimbursed after a budget is passed.

President Tweets: Shutdown May Last ‘Very Long Time’
Early Friday, President Trump took to Twitter and told his followers that, “If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time.”

Several Government Agencies Updated Contingency Plans
Please check the Office of Management and Budget’s page, “Agency Contingency Plans” for recently updated plans.

Trump Tells House Republicans ‘No’ to Continuing Resolution
In an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon, President Trump told House Republicans that he would not sign a continuing resolution that passed in the Senate Wednesday because it did not include $5 billion in funding for the border wall. The House will attempt to add an addendum which includes the requested funding, but may decide to approve the bill without the president’s signature and prepare for a partial shutdown.

Senate Approves Stop-gap Spending Bill
Late Wednesday, the Senate approved a stop-gap spending bill that will fund the government through February 8. The bill still needs to go through the House and be signed by the president to avoid a partial shutdown.

Deadline Approaching with No Plan in Sight
With the deadline approaching Friday, Congress still has no plan and no idea what President Trump wants—aside from a border wall. Though $5 billion is a lot of money, it is a tiny fraction of the $4.4 trillion dollar federal budget.

Still No Plan as Congress Leaves Town
Congress left Washington, DC Thursday with no resolution to the funding stalemate in sight. With President Trump resolute on his request for $5 billion to fund a border wall, lawmakers are at an impasse. The House and Senate will return on December 19, leaving only three days to agree on a budget or anther stopgap spending bill.

Trump, Pelosi, Schumer Discuss Border Security, Government Shutdown
President Trump met with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the oval office Tuesday to speak—in large part—about border security and a possible government shutdown. Schumer mentioned a proposed plan that will have the support of both Democrats and Republicans and will avoid a government shutdown.

“And if it’s not good border security, I won’t take it,” said Trump, later reiterating, “If we don’t have border security, we will shut down the government.”

Watch the full video from C-SPAN. Read the full transcript at the Boston Globe.

Trump Signs Stopgap Bill
President Trump signed a stopgap spending bill that will fund the government through December 21. A consensus between the House and Senate has not yet been reached regarding funding for border security. Trump has stated that he will force a partial shutdown if he does not get the $5 billion he requested.

Continuing Resolution Passes
The House and Senate voted Thursday on a short-term spending bill that will fund affected agencies through December 21. According to USA Today, President Trump “has said he is open to signing it.”

Deadline Extension Proposed
Sometime before December 7, Congress will vote on a spending bill that will extend the budget deadline until December 21—right before the Christmas holidays. The House cancelled votes in chamber this week after death of former president George H. W. Bush and the funeral proceedings that will last through Wednesday afternoon, so it will need to pass by voice vote.

November 2018

Several agencies, including the departments of Commerce and Homeland Security, will run out of funding at midnight on December 7 unless Congress can pass a spending bill by that time. President Trump has said that he would be willing to shut down the government if Congress does not include $5 billion for border security in the bill.