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Federal Budget Outlook

Federal Budget OutlookWatch 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.

FAQ: How might the government shutdown impact university and research funding?


Recent Updates

February 2018

President Signs Budget Deal, Government Reopens After Brief Shutdown
2/9/2018
Friday morning, President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that will raise spending caps on domestic and military spending and lift the federal debt limit until March 2019.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), filibustered for nine hours Thursday evening postponing the Senate’s vote until early-morning hours.

“Now we have Republicans hand in hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits,” he said. “I can’t … in good faith, just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits. Really who is to blame? Both parties.”

NHPRC Announces Plan for Operations in the Event of a Shutdown
2/8/2018
The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) announced that, in the event of a lapse in funding, regular operations will be interrupted and agency staff will be furloughed.

All NHPRC grants are fully funded, but they will be “unable to process recently submitted payment requests or any new payment requests until the National Archives receives an appropriation and we are fully operational once again.” Neither will they 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.

Breakthrough in budget negotiations could raise spending for science
2/7/2018
Science magazine reported that the proposed two-year budget deal Congress set to vote on Thursday could generate “substantial spending increases for research at key U.S. science agencies.”

The budget agreement would increase discretionary spending by 21 percent over existing caps. These areas include scientific research, education, infrastructure, and health care. It also calls for greater spending for the Pentagon and defense.

McConnell, Schumer Reach Two-Year Budget Deal
2/7/2018
According to a story on NPR, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reached a bipartisan budget agreement increasing military and domestic spending levels for two years.

“According to congressional sources briefed on the deal, the plan eliminates mandatory spending cuts for two years and increases Pentagon spending by $80 billion and domestic spending by $63 billion for the 2018 fiscal year. In the 2019 fiscal year, defense spending would rise by $85 billion and domestic spending by $68 billion.”

A final vote is expected on Friday, which means that Congress will have to pass a two-day spending bill to keep the government open in the meantime.

House Passes Stopgap Spending Bill
2/6/2018
The House of Representatives passed a short-term spending bill Tuesday that would avert a second shutdown and fund the federal government through March 23. This was the fifth such stopgap passed since the beginning of the 2018 fiscal year.

According to a Reuters article, the bill, which is expected to be taken up by the Senate Wednesday, does not include changes to the U.S. immigration law. It does, however, include “an increase in Pentagon funding through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year, but exclusion of any increase in non-defense spending.”

President Trump Calls for Shutdown if Congress Cannot Pass Immigration Bill
1/6/2018
Tuesday, in a meeting in a roundtable on gang violence, President Trump stated that a shutdown would be “worth it for our country” if the government doesn’t crack down on illegal immigration (CNN video).

According to an article by the Washington Post quoting White House Chief of Staff Senator John Kelly, Trump is unlikely to extend the DACA deadline past March 5.

Kelly “told reporters that he was ‘not so sure this president has the authority to extend it’ because the Obama-era … program that protects roughly 690,000 undocumented immigrants was not based on law.”

January 2018

Senate Votes to End Shutdown
1/22/2018
After a three-day lapse in appropriations, the Senate voted to pass a short-term spending package which will fund the government through February 8. The next step is to have the Senate grant final approval for the bill and send to the House for approval.

Monday’s vote was the work of a bipartisan group of more than 20 Senators working over the weekend to reach a compromise. According to an article in the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “pledged Monday morning that he would permit a ‘free and open debate’ on immigration next month if the issue had not been resolved by then.”

See how they voted.

Senate to vote at noon on whether to end government shutdown
1/22/2018
As the country heads into the third day of the government shutdown, the Senate plans to meet at noon to vote on a three-week continuing resolution. A vote was originally scheduled for 1 a.m. Monday morning, but it was pushed back when it was perceived that Democrats would block the spending bill due to disagreements on several issues, including the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA).

Sunday, President Trump called for Senate Republicans to change the chamber rules and invoke the “nuclear option” which requires a 51% majority to pass a spending bill. The Senator Republican Conference was not in favor of making that change.

NOAA Sends Memo to Grantees and Recipients
1/20/2018
The Office of Sponsored Programs received a memo from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) outlining how grantees and recipients may be impacted by the lapse in appropriations.

The Grants Online System will not be available. If you are paid on a reimbursable basis, you will not be able to receive funds. However, the Automatic Standard for Application Payment (ASAP) system should be operational.

NOAA grantees and cooperative agreement holders with existing awards are authorized to continue to perform and have access to and be able to draw down funds through the ASAP.”

View copy: NOAA memo to grantees and recipients, January 19, 2018

Senate Vote Fails, Shutdown Imminent
1/19/2018, 10:35 p.m.
In a last-ditch effort to avoid a government shutdown, the Senate held a roll call vote shortly past 10 p.m. Friday, January 19. With only 60 votes required to pass a short-term spending bill that was approved by the House Thursday, neither side was able to sway enough votes to make up the necessary difference.

See how each senator voted.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, lawmakers vowed to continue negotiations over the weekend in hopes to reach a compromise before normal business hours on Monday.

Senate to Vote Again at 10 p.m.
1/19/2018, 9:30 p.m.
With less than two and a half hours before the midnight deadline, there is still no compromise on the horizon. The Senate will return for a vote at 10 p.m., but there is no indication of whether they will pass continuing resolution in time to avert a lapse in appropriations.

Get live updates from Politico | Washington Post | CNN or watch the live stream from the Senate floor.

OMB Releases Memo in Preparation for Lapse in Appropriations
1/19/2018, 4:30 p.m.
The Office of Management and Budget released a memo Friday afternoon urging agencies to prepare for operations in the absence of appropriations. Within the memo is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding grants and contracts (Section II, pages 3-9). 

NHPRC Sends Notice to Project Directors Regarding Shutdown
1/19/2018, 2:45 p.m.
The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) was the first agency to send a notice to UT’s Office of Sponsored Programs regarding the possible government shutdown this afternoon.

Lucy Barber, deputy executive director of NHPRC, said “all NHPRC grant awards are fully funded; however, we will be unable to process recently submitted payment requests or any new payment requests until the National Archives receives an appropriation and we are fully operational once again. In addition, we will not be able to review narrative or financial reports or respond to other grant-related questions.”

In the event of a shutdown, a notice will be posted on the National Archives website.


Interim Vice Chancellor Urges UT to Prepare for Possible Federal Government Shutdown

Robert Nobles, interim vice chancellor for research, issued a memo Friday, January 19, 2018, 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 Grants.gov 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.

OSP Provides Guidance to Researchers With Active Awards and Proposals

Jean Mercer, assistant vice chancellor for research and director of sponsored programs, issued a memo Friday, January 19, 2018, updating campus with information from federal agencies regarding the possibility of a federal government shutdown.

As of Thursday afternoon, a continuing resolution had passed the House and was sent to the Senate for their vote in order to avoid a lapse in federal funding.  As of this afternoon, the Senate has not yet passed a continuing resolution.

For faculty with existing federal awards:
Should you receive a “Stop Work Order,” it is imperative that the Office of Sponsored Programs is notified immediately at 865-­974-­3466. During the 2013 shutdown these orders created a minimal impact. However, because they effectively end or suspend the awards, costs associated with any work conducted after the notification will not be reimbursed. The Office of Sponsored Programs will coordinate with the university to address any problems that may arise from these orders.

For faculty currently preparing proposals:
The Office of Research and Engagement’s recommendation is to continue working as though a shutdown has not occurred. At present, it is anticipated that if a shutdown occurs, it will not be prolonged. Agencies have given no indication that proposal deadline dates will be extended or changed, so please continue working toward the posted deadline.

In the event of a shutdown, it is anticipated that information will not be disseminated from the agencies until the government resumes operation. When information is released, it will be shared with the campus research community.

Should you have any questions about matters related to the shutdown, please contact Jean Mercer, assistant vice chancellor for research and director of sponsored programs (jmerce10@utk.edu, 865-­974-­2465).


OMB Posts Contingency Plans
1/18/2018
The White House Office of Management and Budget has updated the webpage listing Federal agency contingency plans from 2015. The website will be updated as more plans are posted.

OMB Makes Call to Prepare for Government Shutdown
1/16/2018
Bloomberg News reported
that the Office of Management and Budget confirmed that it had held a conference call with agency officials Friday, January 12, to remind agencies of their responsibilities to update contingency plans.

Under Circular A-11, this call must take place one week prior to the possible expiration of funding.

A look back at what occurred during the 2013 shutdown.

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