Partial shutdown of federal government

To: UC Santa Cruz Faculty

From: Scott Brandt, Vice Chancellor, Office of Research

Dear Colleagues,

As I’m sure you know, the federal government is undergoing a partial shutdown. While approximately three-quarters of the government remains funded, significant portions including many federal research agencies are impacted. The agencies affected include National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), United States Geological Survey (USGS), and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Energy (DOE) are notable exceptions; the current funding for these two agencies extends to Sept. 30, 2019.  

As in past shutdowns, it is likely that no funds–neither new awards nor annual increments of ongoing awards–will be forthcoming from affected agencies until the shutdown has ended.  While there is no standard for how long a government shutdown will last, the longest previous shutdown of the US government was 21 days.

Per Peggy Arrivas, UC associate vice president and systemwide controller, UC will continue to pay its employees on time regardless of whether the federal government continues to pay for activities on contracts and grants, with reimbursement expected (where needed) after the shutdown. It is possible the costs may not be allowed during the shutdown; in that case we would need to find other funding sources for anyone who was being paid on a federal grant or contract. In a couple of cases systemwide, PIs have received stop work orders.  In those cases we must still pay our employees in accordance with the applicable policy or union contract, which normally stipulates that we must provide 30 days advance notice to employees in case of termination.

Until the situation is resolved, researchers with existing and anticipated awards are encouraged to defer expenses as much as possible so that existing funds may be used, should it prove necessary, to support soft-funded staff, including grad students, postdocs, and other soft-funded researchers and support staff.  

Researchers with new awards should expect that the funds will be delayed until at least the end of the shutdown (and quite possibly longer).  

Review of any submitted proposals will also be delayed and it is possible, but not guaranteed, that those with submission deadlines during the shutdown may have those deadlines extended past the end of the shutdown (see: for information on current NSF policies during the shutdown, and for information on NASA grants).

Any faculty experiencing a shutdown-related funding crisis should consult with their dean on ways to bridge the funding gap until the situation is resolved. The Office of Research will engage with deans as needed about any emerging crises.

Additional guidance will be provided as further information becomes available.


Scott Brandt