Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, October 4, 2013

Government shutdown puts federally funded grant processing on hold

Although most federally funded research at U-M will continue unimpeded during the federal government shutdown, the process for obtaining new awards will be on hold. Additionally, some research projects funded through contracts rather than grants, or that are awaiting federal regulatory approval, also are on hold.

Many federal employees were furloughed as the federal government’s 2013 fiscal year ended Sept. 30 and a new appropriations act was not signed into law for fiscal year 2014.

As a result of the lapse in government funding, most federal agencies that sponsor university research have halted the process for reviewing submissions and making new awards.

Nonetheless, the U-M Office of Research and Sponsored Projects, the unit that handles all research proposal submissions on behalf of the university, is encouraging researchers to continue to submit new proposals so they can be processed according to the most recent directions provided by each agency.

Federal sponsorship from such agencies as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and others accounts for about 62 percent ($818 million) of the university’s total research volume of $1.33 billion.

Federal research projects for which funds already are available and that don’t require contact with federal staff can continue as usual.

But some contract-based research, such as a pandemic influenza project, being conducted by the Center for the History of Medicine at the Medical School and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is on hold entirely.

Researchers who need to access federal resources, such as databases and websites, or to post clinical trial information on clinicaltrials.gov, or whose projects require federal regulatory approval by such agencies as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, also likely will have to wait until the government reopens.

“We hope that this situation can be resolved as quickly as possible so that the processes of research won’t slow down,” said Stephen Forrest, vice president for research. “After all, university research is not only integral with our educational mission, but also a critical investment in the ideas and people that drive our economy and our quality of life.”

More details on the effects of the shutdown on proposal submission and other aspects of the research process, including links to further resources, are available on the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects website.

Meanwhile, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library on North Campus remains closed and the U-M Library staff has been exploring other avenues for researchers and students to find information that is normally accessed through federal agency websites.

Library staff has identified some ways to access the same information through non-governmental databases or library holdings (print and electronic). Assistance is available at library reference desks and through the Ask A Librarian service.

In addition, there are other small pockets of federal employees on the Ann Arbor campus who have been furloughed during the shutdown. Among those affected are civilian employees in the ROTC program and U.S. Census Bureau employees affiliated with the Institute for Social Research.