Impact of Federal Government Shutdown on Academic Research

Update: a continuing resolution (CR) was reached to keep the government open until November 15, 2023. Duke Government Relations has provided details about the CR. Additional updates will be provided on myRESEARCHpath as November 15 approaches. 

This information was last updated on 10/4/23

Each year, Congress must pass – and the President sign – interim or full-year funding appropriations for federal agencies and programs that rely on discretionary funding. If Congress and the President fail to reach an agreement, the federal government faces a potential shutdown, and this can have consequences for researchers who rely on federal funding, resources, and collaborations.  The disruption of a federal government shutdown can have several implications for our research community:

  1. Delayed Funding: During a federal government shutdown, federal agencies may not be able to process grant applications, issue new awards, or disburse funds. This can lead to delays in receiving funding for ongoing projects or hinder the initiation of new research endeavors. 

  2. Limited Access to Federal Resources: Many researchers rely on federal facilities, databases, and resources for their work. The shutdown may restrict access to these critical resources, hindering ability for data collection, analysis, or experimentation. 

  3. Disrupted Collaborations: Collaborative research projects involving federal agencies or government personnel may experience disruptions due to furloughs or reduced staffing. This can impact the progress and continuity of ongoing research collaborations. 

  4. Sponsor Approvals: Delays in obtaining necessary prior approvals could impact the ability to continue certain work on research project. 

 

Researchers should continue work on active federally sponsored grants and contracts unless you receive a specific order from an authorized representative of the sponsoring agency to stop work. 

Duke has prepared information, resources and answers to frequently asked questions to help you navigate the impact of a federal government shutdown on your research activities. These questions and answers are meant to provide general guidance; if you have further questions, please contact the offices referenced in the below responses. 

The Duke Office of Government Relations has prepared a federal appropriations primer, for those interested in further information on the federal appropriations process.

General FAQs

How might the federal government shutdown impact my research?

The federal government shutdown can impact your research in several ways. It may result in delayed funding, limited access to federal resources and facilities, disruptions in collaborative projects involving government agencies, challenges in obtaining sponsor approvals, and uncertainty in planning and managing research activities.  We hope the shutdown will be brief and have minimal (if any) impact on your research activities, but it is important to stay informed about the status of relevant federal agencies and programs and be prepared to adjust your research plans should a shutdown happen. 

What can I do to minimize the impact of the federal government shutdown on my research?

During the federal government shutdown, chances are that you will not experience significant or prolonged impacts on your research.  To minimize any impact, stay informed about agency updates, adjust research plans and timelines if necessary, and seek guidance from your pre-award office.

How can I stay informed about the status of federal agencies and programs relevant to my research?

To stay informed, regularly check the websites of relevant federal agencies (links below on this page) and monitor your email for updates. We will provide updates on the impact of the federal government shutdown on research using these two communication pathways.

What should I do if I have specific questions or concerns about the impact of the federal government shutdown on my research?

If you have specific questions or concerns, please reach out to your grant manager or the pre-award office (Office of Research Administration for Schools of Medicine/Nursing or Office of Research Support for all other Campus Schools). They can provide personalized guidance and support based on your specific research project and circumstances.

Pre-Award Activity FAQs

How might the federal government shutdown impact pre-award research activities?

The federal government shutdown can impact pre-award research activities by causing delays in the processing and review of grant applications, as well as disruptions in the availability of resources and support from federal agencies. This can affect proposal submissions, budget development, and other pre-award activities.

Can I still apply for federal funding during the federal government shutdown?

It may be possible to submit grant applications during the federal government shutdown (unless a sponsor has specifically communicated that submission systems will be affected).  However, it's unlikely that applications will be processed and reviewed until normal operations resume. It is advisable to check the specific guidelines and updates from the funding agencies (located on this page) regarding grant application submission and review processes during a shutdown.

Will the submission deadlines for contract and grant applications be extended?

While the answer will vary by agency, the submission deadlines for grant applications could be extended or affected by the federal government shutdown in other ways. It is important to closely monitor updates from the funding agencies to stay informed about any changes or extensions to submission deadlines.

Will the review and evaluation of contract and grant applications be delayed during the federal government shutdown?

As with submission deadlines, the review and evaluation of contract and grant applications may be delayed during the federal government shutdown. The availability of program officers, reviewers, and support staff may be limited, which can result in delays in the review process. It is important to stay informed about updates from the funding agencies regarding the review timelines.

Will peer reviews and study sections continue to occur during a federal government shutdown?

Study sections and peer reviews are not likely to occur during a federal government shutdown, which may impact researchers who serve as reviewers. If you are scheduled to participate in an upcoming study section, it is important to monitor updates from the funding agencies.

What should I do if I have specific questions or concerns about the impact of the federal government shutdown on my pre-award research activities or contract and grant application submissions?

If you have specific questions or concerns, please reach out to your grant manager or the pre-award office (Office of Research Administration for Schools of Medicine/Nursing or Office of Research Support for all other Campus Schools). They can provide personalized guidance and support based on your research project and circumstances, and help you navigate any challenges.

Post-Award Activity FAQs

Should I continue to work on my federally-funded grants and contracts?

Yes. In general, researchers should continue work on active federally sponsored grants and contracts unless you receive a specific order to stop work from an authorized representative of the sponsoring agency. 

Researchers on grants and contracts that have not yet received federal funding, or where there are not currently funds available, should not continue work. This includes any projects that are relying on 90 day pre-award spending or are waiting for on renewal or extensions 

How might the federal government shutdown impact post-award research activities and award management?

The federal government shutdown could impact post-award research activities and award management by causing delays in the disbursement of funds, disruptions in project oversight and reporting, and limitations in accessing federal resources and facilities. It can also affect the availability of program officers and support staff for award management.

Will the disbursement of funds for my awarded research project be affected by the federal government shutdown?

The disbursement of funds for awarded research projects will be suspended for any agency affected by the federal government shutdown. Federal agencies responsible for fund distribution may not be able to process payments until the shutdown is resolved. This should not, however, impact your ability to continue work on your research unless there is a specific stop work order issued for your project.  Such an issuance is rare, but Duke is prepared if that should happen.

Can I still access federal resources and facilities for my research during the federal government shutdown?

Access to federal resources and facilities for research purposes may be limited during the federal government shutdown. Many federal agencies and facilities may be temporarily closed or operating with reduced staff. It is advisable to check the specific guidelines and updates from the relevant agencies regarding access to resources and facilities during a shutdown. It is unlikely that federal officials will be able to participate in any planned meetings or scheduled campus visits. If you have upcoming meetings with your program officers, please contact them to determine the need to reschedule.

Will the reporting requirements for my awarded research project be affected by the federal government shutdown?

Reporting requirements for awarded research projects may be affected by the federal government shutdown. The availability of submission systems and access to program officers and support staff for project oversight and reporting may be limited, which could result in delays in reporting deadlines. It is important to stay informed about updates from the funding agency regarding any changes to reporting requirements and deadlines.

My federal project end date has passed and is in the closeout process, how will the federal government shutdown affect my closeout being processed?

Duke administrators will continue to process closeout documents based on the established closeout deadlines. However, federal sponsors will not be available to process the closeout until federal government operations resume. It is important to stay informed about updates from the funding agency regarding any changes or extensions to deadlines.

Will I be impacted if I am currently working on an Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) agreement?

If you are currently working at a federal agency on an IPA, contact your appropriate pre-award office (Office of Research Administration for Schools of Medicine/Nursing, or Office of Research Support for all other Campus Schools) for further instructions. If you receive directions to stop work on the IPA, please provide that information to your appropriate pre-award office immediately.  The pre-award office will provide next steps for how to proceed. 

I am in the process of transferring my federal project(s) to or from Duke University. Will the federal government shutdown affect that process?

Yes. You can expect delays in transferring federal project(s) to or from Duke University.  Federal agency systems to process relinquishment and transfer applications will not be accessible during the federal government shutdown, and federal agency personnel will not be available to review or approve relinquishment and transfer applications.

What should I do if I have specific questions or concerns about the impact of the federal government shutdown on my post-award research activities and award management?

If you have specific questions or concerns, please reach out to your grant manager or the pre-award office (Office of Research Administration for Schools of Medicine/Nursing or Office of Research Support for all other Campus Schools). They can provide personalized guidance and support based on your research project and circumstances.

FAQs Specific to Federal Contracts

How might the federal government shutdown impact federal research contracts?

The federal government shutdown can impact federal research contracts by causing delays in contract execution, disruptions in project implementation, and limitations in accessing federal resources and facilities. It can also result in stop work orders, which temporarily halt contract activities and funding.

What is a stop work order, and how does it affect federal research contracts?

A stop work order is a directive issued by a federal agency that temporarily suspends contract activities and funding. It halts the work specified in the contract and may impact project timelines, deliverables, and payments. Contractors are typically required to cease work until the stop work order is lifted or modified.

Will my ongoing federal research contract be affected by the federal government shutdown?

There is a possibility that ongoing federal research contracts may be affected by the federal government shutdown. Depending on the specific circumstances and agency funding, contracts may experience delays, disruptions, or even stop work orders. While such orders are rare, it is important to stay informed about updates from the contracting agency and if you receive a stop work order, please immediately forward that to your pre-award office (Office of Research Administration for Schools of Medicine/Nursing or Office of Research Support for all other Campus Schools).

Can I continue working on my federal research contract during a stop work order?

No, contractors are required to cease work during a stop work order. The order suspends contract activities and funding until it is lifted or modified by the contracting agency. It is important to comply with the stop work order and communicate with your pre-award office (Office of Research Administration for Schools of Medicine/Nursing or Office of Research Support for all other Campus Schools) for further instructions.

What should I do if my federal research contract is affected by a stop work order?

If your federal research contract is affected by a stop work order, it is important to comply with the order and cease contract activities as directed. The pre-award office (Office of Research Administration for Schools of Medicine/Nursing or Office of Research Support for all other Campus Schools) will provide further instructions and guidance for navigating the impact on your federal research contract work.

How can I stay informed about the status of my federal research contract during the federal government shutdown?

To stay informed, regularly check the websites of relevant federal agencies (links below on this page) and monitor your email for updates on the impact of the federal government shutdown. If your project receives a stop work order, the pre-award office (Office of Research Administration for Schools of Medicine/Nursing or Office of Research Support for all other Campus Schools) will provide further instructions and guidance for navigating the impact on your federal research contract work.

Administrative FAQs

Will Duke receive grant awards and be able to process them during the federal government shutdown?

The processing and disbursement of grant awards will be suspended for any agency or program affected by the federal government shutdown. These agencies will not have access to funding, which will result in receiving and processing grant awards.

Will the availability of federal resources and databases for research administration be affected by the federal government shutdown?

Likely yes, the availability of federal resources and databases for research administration may be affected by the federal government shutdown. Federal agencies responsible for maintaining and providing access to these resources may have limited staff or be unable to maintain regular operations during the shutdown. This can result in limitations in accessing necessary resources and databases.

Can Duke authorized organizational representatives still communicate on my behalf with federal agencies regarding research administration matters during the federal government shutdown?

Communication with federal agencies regarding research administration matters may be challenging during the federal government shutdown. Federal agency staff may have limited availability or be furloughed, which can impact their ability to respond to inquiries and provide guidance, so it is best to expect potential delays in responses.

Will the ability of funding agencies to process research compliance protocols, such as IRB or IACUC reviews, be impacted during the federal government shutdown?

The processing of research compliance protocols, such as IRB (Institutional Review Board) or IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) reviews, may be affected during the federal government shutdown. Regulatory bodies responsible for reviewing and approving research protocols may have limited staff or be unable to operate during the shutdown. This can result in delays in protocol reviews and approvals.

What should I do if I have specific questions or concerns about the impact of the federal government shutdown on research administration activities?

If you have specific questions or concerns, please reach out to the pre-award office (Office of Research Administration for Schools of Medicine/Nursing or Office of Research Support for all other Campus Schools). They can provide personalized guidance and support based on a specific research project and circumstances.

Resources

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the impact of the federal government shutdown on your research, please reach out to your pre-award office (Office of Research Administration for Schools of Medicine/Nursing or Office of Research Support for all other Campus Schools).