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Preparing the UT Community for a Possible Federal Shutdown

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What You Need to Know

Work on existing federal grants and contracts should continue as planned. However, principal investigators (PIs) should consider delaying large purchases, if it is feasible to do so.

While we anticipate that every federal agency will initiate unique contingency plans, the UT community should expect that:

  • Agencies are likely to be prohibited from issuing new grants/contracts or amendments, including those for continuing funding increments, supplements, or no-cost time extensions requiring explicit agency approval.
  • Most federal staff will not be working. Inquiries about upcoming deadlines, proposal preparation and applications, or actions requiring prior approval will likely go unanswered until the shutdown is resolved.
  • Proposal deadline dates may remain unchanged, and proposal submission systems may remain online. Federal help desk personnel are unlikely to be available.
  • The proposal review process is likely to be delayed.

What You Need to Do

Previous shutdowns have fortunately had minimal impacts on UT operations, in part due to proactive steps taken by faculty, staff, and administrators.

  • Keep Working. If you are preparing a proposal, continue working toward the sponsor’s original deadline. At present, federal agencies have given no indication that proposal deadline dates will be extended or changed. Postponing work until the shutdown ends may cause you to miss your deadline.
  • Download Critical Information. Sponsor websites that host information relevant to your proposal may not be accessible during a shutdown. Download reference materials that you need to prepare your proposal, including the solicitation, frequently asked questions, and umbrella guidance from the sponsor (e.g., NSF PAPPG, NIH SF-424).
  • Submit Your Proposal. The Division of Research Administration plans to review and submit proposals, if permitted by the sponsor. For example, in previous shutdowns, proposals could be submitted normally via and were simply held in queue and processed after the shutdown ended, while other agencies with web-based portals (e.g., NSF) shut down their websites, so no proposals could be submitted.
  • Report Stop Work Orders Immediately. If you receive a stop work order from your sponsor, you should immediately notify the Division of Research Administration ( or 865-974-3466). During previous shutdowns, UT received very few stop work orders. However, because they effectively end or suspend work, costs associated with any work conducted after the notification will not be reimbursed. If needed, the Division of Research Administration can provide guidance to departments on how to temporarily cover costs related to payroll interruptions.
  • Funding Availability May Continue. During previous shutdowns, most agencies continued to allow automatic drawdown of funds. Provided the shutdown is not lengthy, we may not experience interruptions to funding availability.
  • Submit No-Cost Extensions Early. For awards with an end date near the shutdown, escalate any planned no-cost extension requests and submit as soon as possible.
  • Meet Your Award Deadlines. If you have a report or other deliverable due to your sponsor, continue working toward the sponsor’s original deadline. Submit your reports on time, if permitted by your sponsor.
  • Expect Delays in New Awards. New awards are likely to be delayed until after the shutdown is over. Be cautious about spending funds before an award document is received. All expenditures must occur in the period of performance.
  • Expect Delays in Routine Post-Award Administration. The Division of Research Administration plans to review and process post-award actions (e.g., no-cost extensions, rebudget requests, and other award management decisions), if permitted by each sponsor. Be aware that sponsors may slow down or stop processing post-award actions until the shutdown ends.

How We Can Help

Do you have questions or concerns not addressed above? Please contact Jennifer Webster, ORIED chief of staff, at or 865-974-2044 for additional guidance or scenario analysis tailored to your needs.