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Federal R&D Budget Outlook 2013 (archived)

NOTE: Events on the federal legislative scene complicated university research and development in calendar 2013. This is an archive of the issues and events involving both the spring federal sequester and the government shutdown in October.

Even though Congress has passed both a budget authorization bill and an authorization to raise the federal debt ceiling, the fundingscape for federal agencies remains uncertain. The continuing resolution passed October 16, 2013, is a temporary measure that will expire around January 2014.

The UT Office of Research and Engagement will track budget developments and post relevant news to this page as the president and Congress prepare future federal appropriations for FY 2014 and 2015.

Latest Update — October 24, 2013

Agencies rebound from shutdown, set new deadlines and procedures

Federal funding agencies are resuming normal working processes and establishing new deadlines after the October 16 passage of the continuing resolution that authorized Fiscal Year 2014 federal spending and raised the federal borrowing limit.

The Office of Sponsored Programs has received numerous notices from funding agencies, and the Office of Research and Engagement is tracking them on its Federal R&D Budget Outlook page. Please review the notices below for information pertinent to your proposals and awards. Contact Debbie Hampstead, OSP assistant director, with specific questions, or contact your OSP proposal coordinator.

National Institutes of Health

*NIH Revised Guidance on Resumption of Extramural Activities . . . (NOT-OD-14-007) (Oct. 24)

NIH Guidance on Resumption of Extramural Activities . . . (includes rescheduling of October due dates)

NIH Memo of October 18, including important links

National Science Foundation advisories

Resumption of Operations at the National Science Foundation

FastLane Advisory

*Grant & Cooperative Agreement Related Policy & Systems Issues (Oct. 22 update) (Oct. 24)

Important Notice . . . (memo to presidents, etc.)

NSF Revised Proposal Due Date Listing (Oct. 22)

*NSF FAQ on post-shutdown due dates (Oct. 24)

NSF DDRI cancelation for Geography & Spatial Sciences (Oct. 24)

NSF DDIG Grants revised due date (Oct. 23)

NSF PRFB due date not revised (Oct. 23)

NSF ADBC revised due date (Oct. 23)

NASA Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences 2013 (ROSES)

NASA Astrobiology Institute Cycle 7 CAN

NIST Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (2013-NIST-AMTECH-01)

* Most recent update

Government operations resume; OSP awaits agency directives

The federal government reopened Thursday, October 17, 2013, after Congress passed and the president signed a continuing resolution that lets the government continue funding federal activities for Fiscal Year 2014. The Office of Management and Budget posted this message on its website:


Due to the enactment of a continuing resolution, federal government operations are open. Employees are expected to return for work on their next regularly scheduled work day (Thursday, October 17th for most employees), absent other instructions from their employing agencies. Agencies are strongly encouraged to use all available workplace flexibilities to ensure a smooth transition back to work for employees (e.g. telework, work schedule flexibilities, and excused absence for hardship situations).

The UT Office of Sponsored Programs reports that the National Science Foundation’s FastLane is open but OSP is holding off on submission awaiting revised deadlines from the NSF. Contact Miriam Campo or Debbie Hampstead with specific questions.

CAUTION: PIs should complete proposals by deadline, despite shutdown

The Office of Sponsored Programs has issued a caution for principal investigators who are in the midst of preparing proposals that should have been submitted during the federal shutdown. Director of Sponsored Programs Miriam Campo writes:

In preparation for when the government shutdown ends and the federal sponsors begin accepting proposal submissions, the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is urging faculty to finalize all proposal documents with original deadlines during the shutdown period. When the sponsors are back, we anticipate that they will provide us with a 3-5 day window to submit proposals that had deadlines during the shutdown period. The OSP office will be unable to provide full review of all proposals if we only have a couple of days to submit.

In order for us to be able to provide you with the best service and ensure that all requirements from the solicitations are met, we urge you to finalize the proposal documents now and allow us to do the final review. If your original proposal deadline has passed, please email the final documents to your OSP proposal coordinator no later than COB on Monday, October 14, 2013.  If your proposal deadline is upcoming, please adhere to that deadline even if the government is still shutdown. We will have all proposals in a holding pattern and as soon as the sponsors are back we can submit them in an orderly manner.

Contact Miriam Campo or Debbie Hampstead with questions.

Shutdown delays early release of NSF procedures manual

The Council on Governmental Relations notes that the pending release of revisions to the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide is being delayed by the current shutdown of the federal government. The National Science Foundation guide is set to go into effect in January 2014, and the agency has traditionally released the new version in October. In the agenda for its October meeting, COGR warns that, while release of the revisions may be delayed, the January effective date may not change.

Report any stop-work orders to Office of Sponsored Programs

The Office of Sponsored Programs has received several stop-work orders for projects funded by various federal agencies as a result of the current government shutdown. Miriam Campo, OSP director, asks that any department or principal investigator that has received a stop-work order directly from an agency send a copy of the notification to her at mcampo@utk.edu. Call her at 865-974-2187 with information or questions.

The shutdown: Agency plans, proposal submittals, temporary stop work orders

UT Vice Chancellor Taylor Eighmy has summarized the current impacts of the federal shutdown on federal grant and contract matters, including agency actions and UTK proposal submittals. In brief:

  • NSF’s FastLane and Research.gov are unavailable during the shutdown.
  • NIH strongly encourages that proposals not be submitted until after the shutdown.
  • Grants.gov is available for proposal submittal for processing after the shutdown.
  • Federal stop-work orders issued by some agencies because federal supervisory personnel are furloughed will prevent work or expenditures (including salaries) on those projects.

Updates will be posted on this website as they occur.

Memo from the Vice Chancellor (Oct. 2, 2013)

Shutdown of federal government has begun October 1, 2013

The U.S. Government began a partial shutdown at 12:01 a.m. October 1, 2013, when the House and Senate failed to agree on Fiscal Year 2014 budget appropriations. A number of federal agencies shut down part or all of their normal operations because funding has not been authorized. The lack of funding authorization is affecting the university’s federally sponsored programs in a several ways:

  • Many agency personnel who administer proposals, grants, and other project-related activities are not on the job and cannot respond to university researchers and sponsored-program staff.
  • Some federal websites have been taken down, and others may have information that has not been updated.
  • Sponsored programs operating on previously authorized federal funds can continue to operate, and automatic drawdowns from FY 2013 appropriations can still be made.
  • In most agencies awards on new proposals will not be made until the shutdown is resolved by congressional action. Proposals can still be made to Grants.gov, but the National Science Foundation’s FastLane is not accepting proposals.
  • Access to federal facilities and personnel may or may not be available locally or nationally.

The Office of Research and Engagement is tracking shutdown notices and instructions and posting available links on the Federal R&D Budget Outlook page. UT researchers with specific questions about their proposals, awards, or other matters related to federally sponsored programs can contact Miriam Campo, director of the Office of Sponsored Programs, (865-974-2465).

Proposal Submission Guidance for NSF and NIH during Federal Shut Down 10-1-2013

Vice Chancellor outlines impact of possible federal shutdown on UTK

Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Taylor Eighmy has issued a memo outlining possible impacts of the pending shutdown of federal spending on the various programs sponsored at UT by federal agencies.

In the memo, Eighmy notes

  • Individual Agency Plans: This page  is updated daily with agency plans and developments in the shutdown.
  • Proposal Submittals: Generally speaking, Grants.gov will be maintained by the agencies so that grants can be submitted. They will be held in the queue and processed after the shutdown is complete.
  • New Awards: New awards are likely to be delayed until after the shutdown is over. As always, 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 may 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 will continue to allow automatic drawdowns. We do not anticipate any impacts relative to fund availability as long as the shutdown is minimal (e.g., some have suggested minimal impacts if the shut down is less than two weeks).

Direct questions to Miriam Campo (mcampo@utk.edu, 865-974-2465).

Memo from the Vice Chancellor

Federal websites may go dark or host stale information

According to a report from Federal News Radio, many federal agency websites may go dark or fail to be updated in the event of a government shutdown. The General Services Administration has instructed federal web managers to include the following information on their websites: “Due to the government shutdown, information on this website may not be up to date. For information about available government services, visit USA.gov.”

OMB memo outlines procedures for possible federal shutdown

The White House Office of Management and Budget has issued guidance for government agencies and their contractors and grantees in the event of a government shutdown on October 1, 2013. The memo addresses actions federal agencies should take if Congress fails to authorize spending for Fiscal Year 2014. The memo includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions that deals specifically with contracting, grant administration, and payment processing during any lapse in spending authorization. The FAQs also treat issues related to web page maintenance and updating during the possible shutdown. OMB is updating its page of links to the shutdown contingency plans of federal agencies across the federal government

Based on the OMB memo, the Council on Governmental Relations has concluded that, in general, active grant and contract activity funded with FY2013 (or prior year) appropriations can continue. However, agency personnel most likely will not be available for approvals, supervisory support, and other administrative functions. Agency-specific guidance will be made available as the Office of Research and Engagement receives it on a case-by-case basis and will be posted on the ORE website.

UT principal investigators can contact the UT Office of Sponsored Programs (Miriam Campo) with specific questions in the event of a shutdown. Details

(Sept. 28, 2o13) National Science Foundation Statement

(Sept. 27, 2013) NASA Memo

(Sept. 27, 2013) The Department of Education has released a multi-page memo outlining its contingency plan.

(Sept. 27, 2013) The Department of Energy spells out its response in a Q/A format on its page.

(Sept. 27, 2013) The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will not have grant officers available if a federal shutdown occurs. Nor will their Grants Online System be available, although the Automatic Standard Application for Payment system is expected to be operational. Without a stop-work notification, work under NOAA grants and cooperative agreements can continue. Memo

(Sept. 27, 2013) The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has issued a notice that is substantially the same as the the NIH notice below.

(Sept. 27, 2013) The National Institutes of Health has issued an informal notice that — in the event of a government shutdown — NIH administrative support services will not be available but the Department of Health and Human Services’ Payment Management System will continue to allow the processing of grant drawdown requests from funds awarded before the shutdown. Grants.gov will continue to accept applications for funding but those proposals will not be processed until the end of the shutdown. NIH email

(Sept. 26, 2013) The  Department of Defense has created a page laying out DOD responses to the possible shutdown.

White House lines out science, technology priorities for FY 2015

In a recent memorandum to heads of executive branch departments and agencies, White House officials have outlined the major priorities in science and technology for the FY 2015 budget. At the top of the multi-agency research agenda are

  • Advanced manufacturing, with a focus on industry/university partnerships
  • Clean energy technologies, especially those that reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Global climate change, with emphasis on interactions between Arctic climate and the mid-latitudes
  • Information technology, including “Big Data” and cybersecurity
  • National security, including hypersonics, advanced computing, and countering weapons of mass destruction
  • Biological innovation and neuroscience, especially Basic Research through Advancing innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN)
  • Education in science, technology, engineering, and math

Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and John P. Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, circulated the memo on July 26, 2013. It was posted to the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on August 28, 2013.

NSF finalizes FY13 budget

The National Science Foundation has released its final spending plans for FY 2013 after taking into account the sequestration order issued by the White House on March 1, 2013.

On July, 17, 2013, the NSF updated an earlier notice noting that congressional appropriations had mitigated the effects of the sequestration on the FY 2013 budget. The agency announced six results of the budget action:

  • All existing continuing grant increments will be fully funded for FY 2013.
  • “NSF directorates have now received full-year funding allocations,” allowing funding decisions to be made before the end of FY 2013.
  • “NSF expects to make fewer new awards in FY 2013.
  • All major research equipment and facilities construction projects in FY 2013 will be fully funded.
  • The NSF will not hold competitions or solicitations for some programs in FY 2013.
  • No NSF staff will be furloughed, so proposal review and award decision-making will not be interrupted.

More information available here.

Presidential budget focus turns from FY 13 sequester to FY 2015

As the effects of the March 2013 Budget Control Act sequestration are being implemented throughout the FY 2013 federal budget, the White House has released guidance that will allow government agencies to plan for the 2015 fiscal year, which starts October 1, 2014.

Sylvia Burwell, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, issued a memo May 29, 2013, that instructs heads of federal departments and agencies how they should prioritize spending for their organizations.

“We have not had the regular order budgeting process that we would prefer, and I understand the compounding challenges that agencies face in continuing to provide vital services and protect mission in an environment of sequestration,” Burwell wrote. “These challenges have only increased the President’s resolve to work with Congress on . . . replacing sequestration with a balanced deficit reduction plan of additional spending cuts and sensible entitlement reforms coupled with revenue from tax reform.”

She noted that the 2014 budget included “more than enough deficit reduction to cancel sequestration and restore discretionary funding to levels legislated in the Budget Control Act.

Burwell instructs agency and departmental heads to submit a budget that includes a five-percent reduction for FY 15 below the projected total for FY15 included in their FY 14 budgets. Additionally, they should prepare to reduce further their submitted proposal for discretionary spending by an additional five percent.

Departments and agencies preparing proposals to change existing programs under mandatory spending figures must find budget-neutral ways to fund them within the FY 15 budget proposal.

Text of the memo is here.

Final NSF totals posted

The National Science Foundation posted on April 9, 2013, a chart that lays out the NSF enacted appropriations by program subactivity. The agency received $6.9 billion for FY 2013, a reduction of $356 million because of the sequestration. View the chart here.

NIH Issues Budget Guidelines for Rest of FY 2013

The National Institutes of Health has issued a notice on fiscal operations that will guide its institutes in using the $29.15 billion the agency is authorized to spend for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013.

The NIH notice takes into account the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, passed by Congress and signed into law by the president on March 26, 2013, as well as the sequestration provisions of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, as amended.

The legislation reduces NIH funding by 5 percent for the rest of FY 2013, which ends September 30, 2013.

The notice articulates guiding principles for noncompeting continuation awards for FY 2013 and FY 2014, and indicates that the NIH will likely make fewer competing awards in FY 2013. It notes that inflationary increases for competing awards will be discontinued in FY 2013 and it pledges continuing support for new investigators.

The text of the notice is available here.

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research has sent this budget reduction memo to all of its contract and grant recipients.

AFOSR Memo to Grantees (PDF)

The National Institutes of Health has issued separate letters notifying grant awardees and contractors about what to expect from the budget sequestration now in effect. Sequestration responses by NIH institutes and centers will be posted at a later date.

NIH Letter to Grantees (PDF)

NIH Letter to Contractors (PDF)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is circulating a letter to grantees advising them that their awards may be affected as a result of the budget sequestration. Such changes may involve continuations, incremental funding on multiyear awards, or negotiated reductions in the scope of awards. Awardees will be notified by NOAA grants officers if their awards are to be affected.

See the letter here (PDF).

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has issued a letter advising the agency’s contractors, grantees, and agreement participants about the possible effects of the $85 billion budget sequestration that is now in effect.

Elizabeth Roibinson, chief acquisition officer for NASA, wrote March 4 that the sequestration may affect NASA contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, or Space Act agreements. Responsible contracting, agreement, or grant officers will contact affected researchers with details of any changes.

Read the letter here (PDF).

The U.S. Department of Energy has responded to the implementation of the sequestration on the federal budget with a March 4 letter outlining the broad steps it will take toward the agency’s contractors and recipients of financial assistance. The letter, signed by Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, states that DOE may negotiate lower prices with contractors, re-scope, delay or suspend work, or stop it altogether. The department may also decide not to issue continuation awards or negotiate a reduction in the scope of the award. Researchers who will be affected by the sequestration will by contacted by the appropriate contracting officer.

See the full statement here (PDF).

As of March 1, the executive and congressional branches of the federal government have failed to replace their sequestration legislation with provisions that would avoid some $85 billion in budget cuts to various federal agencies. The Deputy Director of Management for the Office of Management and Budget has conveyed its legally mandated report to Congress on the sequestration, detailing “calculations of the amounts and percentages by which various budgetary resources are required to be reduced, and a listing of the reductions required for each non-exempt budget account.”

The full report is available here (PDF).

The White House Office of Management and Budget has issued a memo outlining agency responsibilities for implementing the sequestration that goes into effect today, March 1, 2013.

On February 27, Danny Werfel, controller for OMB spelled out guidelines for agencies that will affect the concrete actions to be taken in response to the sequestration.

The salient points for university researchers:

  1. “Agencies’ planning efforts must be guided by the principle of protecting the agency’s mission to serve the public to the greatest extent practicable.” Agencies are obliged to identify major grants and contracts that will be cancelled, re-scoped, delayed, or altered in terms of payment amount.
  2. Federal agencies must be “as specific as possible” in communicating how specific responses to the sequestration will affect to stakeholders, including grant recipients and contractors.
  3. Agency acquisitions must ensure that “any contract actions are both cost-effective and minimize negative impact on the agency’s mission.”
  4. In terms of grants, loans, and similar funding activities, agencies “should ensure that any new financial assistance obligations or funding increases under existing agreements are consistent with the need to protect the agency’s mission.”
  5. Agency heads must ensure that certain activities – including new hires, discretionary monetary awards to employees, and obligations for training, conferences, and travel – receive increased scrutiny.

See the full memorandum (PDF)

Memo from the UT Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement regarding the Sequester, FY13 Budget Continuing Resolution and FY14 President’s Budget Impacts on Graduate Student and Staff Support on Federal Grants and Contracts.

Subra Suresh, the director of the National Science Foundation, has issued a statement to presidents of universities, colleges, and other awardee organizations of the NSF. The statement spells out the implications of the budget sequestration scheduled to go into effect Friday, March 1, 2013. The statement was released through the Federal Demonstration Partnership listserv.

Key elements of the statement:

  1. “At NSF, the major impact of sequestration will be seen in reductions to the number of new research grants and cooperative agreements awarded in FY 2013. We anticipate that the total number of new research grants will be reduced by approximately 1,000.”
  2. “. . . all continuing grant increments in FY 2013 will be awarded, as scheduled, and there will be no impact on existing NSF standard grants.”
  3. “The same intent applies to annual increments for cooperative agreements, though overall funding constraints may require reductions to certain major investments. These will be handled on a case-by-case basis.”

Suresh notes that revisions of this notice may be necessary when the current Continuing Resolution expires on March 27, 2013, depending on the details of the NSF appropriations included in congressional budget provisions after that date and for the remainder of the federal fiscal year ending September 30, 2013.

Full text of the notice available here

The looming sequestration could cut the U.S. Gross Domestic Product by more than $200 billion as it depresses innovation in the nation’s research and development establishment, a nonpartisan think tank estimates.

A report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation concludes that budget cuts from the sequestration scheduled to go into effect March 1 will increase the “investment deficit,” that shortfall of funds for scientific research and new technologies that “provide a critical foundation for long-term economic growth.” The foundation estimates that the resulting loss of innovation capacity could reduce the GDP by some $203 billion annually by 2021.

“By continuing to fixate on the budget deficit alone, policymakers miss the broader problems . . . including the stagnation of funding to support the innovation that is necessary to promote new product creation, business development, and job growth,” said Robert Atkinson, president of ITIF.

Access the report “Eroding Our Foundation: Sequestration, R&D, Innovation and U.S. Economic Growth” and the Executive Summary.

The American Institute of Physics has also posted a thorough summary of expected impacts of the sequestration on federal agencies that are focused on funding scientific research and serving the public’s need for science and technology: “‘The Wolf is at the Door’: Likely Impacts of Sequestration.”

The White House has issued details about the impacts the March 1 sequestration is likely to have on programs that serve Tennessee, as well as on other states and national programs that also have implications for researchers and educators in Tennessee. See the state-by-state summary published by the Washington Post on Sunday night, February 24.

While the March 1 budget sequestration with its drastic cuts in federal spending is less than a week away and looking inevitable, the House Committee on Appropriations is preparing a new continuing resolution that will postpone the other looming budget crisis — the expiration of the current continuing resolution on March 27.

The resolution the committee is crafting will authorize governmental borrowing covering defense and military construction bills, as well as other government needs for the remaining six months of fiscal 2013, which ends September 30, 2013, according to Roll Call, the news venue for the Congressional Quarterly.

Earlier reports in Roll Call indicate that the committee has been collecting information about agencies and programs that may need special provisions in the next six months. The chair of the committee, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Kentucky), said that the committee will try to limit the number of special provisions that are included in the bill.

Roll Call writer Kerry Young said the continuing resolution is likely to form the impetus for any final budget deal, for the remainder of FY 2013 and for the sequester. More information here

The National Institutes of Health has articulated its operation plan should the federal budget sequestration occur on March 1, 2013.

In a notice issued on February 21, the NIH states that under sequestration it “likely will reduce the final FY 2013 funding levels for noncompeting continuation grants and expects to make fewer competing awards to allow the agency to meet the available budget allocation.” The agency notes that, because of the sequestration, already reduced grants for FY 2013 may not be restored to “the full FY 2013 commitment level described in the Notice of Award.” Researchers with questions about a specific grant are advised to inquire with the NIH grants management specialist listed on their notice of award.

The notice reminds stakeholders that the agency is already operating under a continuing budget resolution that has prompted the lowering of noncompeting continuation grants by approximately 10 percent for FY 2013. More information here

The National Science Foundation has not issued a formal statement about the sequestration, but NSF information officers shared a recent letter to Sen. Barbara Mikulski that outlines the approach NSF will take toward the requirements of the sequestration. The letter from NSF Director Subra Suresh articulates the principles by which the NSF will approach the sequestration and lists the areas most endangered. NSF’s actions will (a) protect commitments to NSF’s core mission and maintain existing awards, (b) protect the NSF workforce, and (c) protect STEM human capital development.

Additionally, Suresh notes that spending on research equipment and facilities construction would be reduced by approximately $35 million, causing layoffs among scientific and technical staffs and negatively affecting supplier companies, as well as increasing future construction costs.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is offering researchers, professionals, students, and interested citizens the opportunity to sign a petition calling for Congress and the Obama administration to consider the importance of science and research as they deal with the impending federal budget sequestration scheduled to take effect March 1. In its “Speak Up for Science” initiative, AAAS states that “indiscriminate cuts” expected from the sequestration “will do significant damage to the scientific enterprise, ending promising research projects, eliminating jobs, and stalling the innovation process.” Access the petition here

The Associated Press is reporting today (February 15, 2013) that a proposal by Senate Democrats to avoid the March 1 sequestration of federal funds has not been well-received by Republicans. The proposal is scheduled for a vote during the week of February 25.

“The Senate bill would forestall the cuts through Dec. 31 and substitute about $110 billion in deficit savings over the coming decade,” AP reporter Andrew Taylor wrote. “Almost $1 trillion worth of cuts over the coming eight years would remain in place.”

Taylor reported that the cuts to non-Defense programs might total as much as 9 percent because of the New Year’s congressional vote that delayed the sequestration till March 1. Read the full story

Meanwhile, FederalNewsRadio.com is reporting that the effects of sequestration on the federal workforce won’t be felt immediately on March 1, should the U.S. Congress fail to act. Read the full story

Fresh from visits to Washington lawmakers, Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos reported in the Research at Vanderbilt e-newsletter that the consensus among Tennessee’s congressional delegation is that “cuts are likely to occur over the coming months.” Read the full story

The White House today (February 8, 2013) issues a warning about potential impacts on federal government operations should Congress fail to act on the budget sequestration scheduled to go into effect March 1, 2013.

Only two days after President Obama proposed a short-term delay in the sequestration process, the White House Office of the Press Secretary has issued a fact sheet spelling out the broad areas that will face damaging budget shortfalls, including cuts to research and innovation, education, food safety, mental health and small business.

The fact sheet outlines cuts to federal research operations, including

  • The National Institutes of Health, which would “delay or halt vital scientific projects and make hundreds of fewer research awards”
  • The National Science Foundation, which would issue about 1,000 fewer grants and affect some 12,000 scientists and students.
  • New drug approvals by the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, which would have to delay regulatory policies and decision-making on drug-related science and technology.

The fact sheet claims that the automatic budget cuts will “threaten thousands of jobs and the economic security of the middle class.”

Federalnewsradio.com is reporting that Danny Werfel, controller of the federal Office of Management and Budget, said that the sequestration would cause hundreds of thousands of furloughs among the federal workforce, including prosecutors, food inspectors, and Internal Revenue Service employees.

A day (February 6, 2013) after President Obama proposed a short-term delay in the March 1 sequestration, civilian federal agencies are preparing to outline how the looming budget cuts will affect them.

Federalnewsradio.com, which focuses its coverage on federal workforce issues and Defense Department news, reports that the Office of Management and Budget has instructed agencies to discuss employee furloughs and other actions that may be necessary if the sequestration is not lifted or delayed further. Those discussions are authorized to start on Tuesday, February 12.

In the meantime, the ScienceWorksForU.S. website has collected a number of statements and videos urging federal action to prevent the sequester. The website is a joint effort of The Association of Public Land-grant Universities, the Association of American Universities, the Science Coalition.

Congress must act in little more than three weeks if automatic budget cuts do not cut heavily into defense spending and other federal programs, including research and development work that funds university research programs.

One Washington-watcher noted that researchers with FY2012 awards (or earlier) won’t be affected by the sequestration. FY2013 monies may also be secure if they were obligated before the sequestration occurs. Federal agencies are reportedly arguing internally whether they will be forced to cut research projects by a fixed percentage across the board or whether some projects can receive fuller funding at the expense of programs that are less mission-critical.

Reportedly a full-year continuing budget resolution (rather than passage of an actual federal budget document) will also have a serious impact on research and development across the departments and agencies.

The U.S. Department of Defense is shedding its payroll of thousands of temporary workers as it prepares for the congressional sequestration of funds and gets ready to furlough its civilian employees one day a week without pay for the rest of fiscal 2013, according to FederalNewsRadio.com’s Jared Serbu.

In the last week, most of the federal response to the possible sequestration have come from the Defense Department. While the Office of Management and
Budget has advised all federal agencies to intensify their preparations for the March 1 event, the responses of individual agencies is expected to vary,
and the impact on federally sponsored research programs is not clear.

The Office of Management and Budget has warned federal agencies and executive departments to prepare for the issuance of a sequestration order on March 1, 2013, in case Congress fails to amend the sequestration act passed in 2011. Some $85 billion would be cut from the federal budget if the sequestration takes place.

Jeffrey Zients, deputy director for management, issued a memo January 14 instructing the heads of executive departments and agencies to “take certain steps to plan for and manage this budgetary uncertainty.”

“At this time, agencies do not have clarity regarding the manner in which Congress will address these issues or the amount of budgetary resources that will be available through the remainder of the fiscal year,” Zients writes. “Until Congress acts, agencies must continue to prepare for the possibility that they will need to operate with reduced budgetary resources.”

Steps to be taken by agencies and executive departments:

  • Using any available flexibility to reduce operational risks and minimize impacts on agencies’ core missions
  • Identifying and addressing operational challenges to agency missions or life, safety, and health issues
  • Identifying the most appropriate means to reduce civilian workforce costs where necessary
  • Reviewing grants and contract to determine where cost savings may be achieved
  • Considering account funding flexibilities, reprogramming and transfer authority
  • Taking the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification requirements into account.

Zients instructs the agencies that actions “specifically designed as a response to sequestration should generally not be taken at this time” but notes that some actions may have to occur in the near-term.

Full text of the OMB memo

Science Magazine’s Jeffrey Mervis reports “The battle over the fiscal cliff is far from over for U.S. scientists” in his article Sequestration Takes Aim at Federal Science Spending.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science reports Tax Deal Leaves U.S. Science Agencies and Institutions in Funding Limbo.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science reports “Sequestration” Budget Cuts Would Cripple U.S. Scientific Progress, Experts Warn.

The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities is following the fiscal cliff discussions on a web site devoted to the issue.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has created a “Speak Up for Science” web site that allows scientists to tell federal policymakers about the importance of federal funding to their research. The site provides for submission of video or written comments.

The Society for Neuroscience has created a web page with resources to help researchers contact appropriate policymakers.

Sequestration Overview

Congressional passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, passed over the New Year’s holiday, has delayed the required issuance of a budgetary sequestration order until March 1, 2013. While the “fiscal cliff” issue was resolved, at least temporarily, for taxes and revenue increases, the broad budget-cutting requirements are still in play.

Without further congressional amendment to the Budget Control Act of 2011, the president will be required to cut spending by some $85 billion by the end of Fiscal 2013 on September 30, 2013.

For each fiscal year 2014 to 2021, the $109 billion in sequestration budget cuts will be implemented differently: discretionary programs will be subject to additional reductions below the annual spending caps through the appropriations process, while Medicare and other non-exempt mandatory programs will continue to be subject to across-the-board percentage cuts.

Related budgetary issues that will also require congressional action this spring include extending the government’s authority to borrow (the debt ceiling issue), dealing with a freeze in current federal spending, and considering the president’s budget for 2014.

Many scientific and scholarly advocacy organizations are projecting that the continued lack of a fiscal commitment to research and scholarship will result in deep cuts to vital university research efforts.

Science Works for U.S., a collaborative of university organizations with a stake in continued funding of research, estimates that the impact of the sequestration will total $48.9 million for universities in Tennessee.

Impact of Sequestration on UT Research

It is estimated that the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts would save approximately 18% in interest payments, resulting in a net of approximately $984 billion in cuts across all discretionary budgets. These cuts are divided between defense and non-defense discretionary spending and include a 2% reduction in Medicare payments.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has analyzed what sequestration would mean for research. Under the President’s proposed FY 2013 budget (not accounting for inflation), research and development would have received an increase in funding across the majority of all accounts, as summarized below.

Additional Links

For further information, visit the following websites:

Federal Reports

Research Community Reponses

Other University Responses

*This website and verbiage was adapted from University of California — Fact Sheet: Impacts of Sequestration on the University of California.

AAAS R&D Budget and Policy website

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is tracking legislative and administrative developments in federal support for research and development.


Information & Resources

(NOTE: Not all of the agencies linked below are completely shut down. View agencies of interest to determine status of availability and/or closure.)

Office of Management and Budget SUMMARY List of Agency Contingency Plans

CNN: What’s closed, what’s open

Shutdown information from Science Journal  

NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (Oct. 4)

NIH update (Oct. 14)

Y-12 Supplier Notice (Oct. 10)

Department of Justice shutdown Q&A (Oct. 7)

Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (DOD) (Oct. 3)

Department of the Interior (Oct. 2)

NSF External Guidance (Oct. 1)

NIH (Oct. 1)

HUD Drawdowns (Knoxville) (Oct. 1)

NASA Shutdown

Department of Homeland Security GFAD Grant Guidance – Federal Funding Hiatus (Oct. 1)

National Archives (Oct. 1)

Justice shutdown (Oct. 1)

Agency Shutdown Guidelines


National Science Foundation (Sept. 30), National Science Foundation (Sept. 28)

Department of Health and Human Services (Sept. 30)

Housing and Urban Development  (Sept. 30)

Department of Homeland Security (Sept. 30)

NASA (Sept. 30), NASA (Sept. 27)

Department of Agriculture (Sept. 30)

National Security Agency  (Sept. 30)

Department of Energy (Sept. 27)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Sept. 27)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Sept. 27) (See DHHS above and NIH below.)

National Institutes of Health (Sept. 27)

Department of Defense (Sept. 26)

Sequestration Notices from Federal Funding Agencies

NSF FY 2013 appropriations by program subactivity (April 9)

New OMB Memo Promotes Flexible Response to Sequester (April 4)

Office of Justice Programs Letter to Grantees (March 18)

US AID Response to the Sequestration (March 12)

NIH Letter to Grantees (March 7)

NIH Letter to Contractors (March 7)

NASA letter (March 4)

DOE letter (March 4)

NOAA Letter (March 5)

OMB Memorandum (March 1)

OMB Report (March 1)

NSF Letter (February 27)

NIH Notice (February 21)

Recent Media Links

President, Congressional Leaders to Meet at White House on Day One of Sequester — from The Associated Press

Military Leaders Make Last-minute Appeal on Sequester — from FederalNewsRadio.com

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Sequester — from NEWScience Policy

Absolutely everything you could possibly need to know, in one FAQ — from The Washington Post

Governors Issue Warning of Impact on Cuts — from The New York Times

D.C. Players Jockey for Position on Sequester — from RollCall.com

Sequester will Set Back Medical Science for a Decade — from The Washington Post

Government Already Shrinking Ahead of Sequestration — from FederalNewsRadio.com

DHS Science & Technology Retooled After Budget Slashed — from FederalNewsRadio.com

Military Issues Dire Warnings of Readiness Crisis, Decries Political Gridlock — from FederalNewsRadio.com

Obama Calls on Congress to Stop Sequestration, Pass Cyber Bill — from FederalNewsRadio.com

OMB Details Widespread Furloughs, Cuts to Agency Programs under Sequestration — from FederalNewsRadio.com

DOE Response to the Committee on Appropriations (PDF)

Obama Seeks to Delay Sequester with Short-term Fix — from FederalNewsRadio.com

Videos by researchers, educators, support easing sequestration for research — fromScienceWorksForU.S.

Members of America’s Research Community Urge Congress: Stop the Sequester — from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU)

Sequestration Effects Becoming Clear for DoD — from FederalNewsRadio.com

America’s Research Enterprise and the Sequester — from ScienceWorksForU.S.

The Fiscal Cliff and the Consequences of Inaction — from ScienceWorksForU.S.

‘Fiscal cliff’ 101: 5 basic questions answered — from The Christian Science Monitor

The Multibillion-Dollar Threat to Research Universities — from The Chronicle of Higher Education

What’s on the Table Now in ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Talks — from The Associated Press

Agencies set up plans to manage cuts if Congress, Obama fail to reach deficit deal — from The Washington Post