What Does The Government Shutdown Mean For University Research?

Oct 2, 2013

Researchers at the University of Arkansas say that, at least in the near term, their research can continue as usual despite a federal government shutdown.

Jim Rankin, vice provost for research and economic development at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, explains that while the research they do relies heavily on federal funding, the money is already there.

"Some of these are one or two year grants, so they're not always tied to the federal fiscal year, which started October 1. So they could have at least a year of funding in their account. So we won't see an immediate impact, but we'll start seeing one or two that run out of funding," says Rankin.

But, Rankin says, the National Institute of Health isn’t taking any new applications for grant funding, meaning researchers at the University have proposals waiting for when government operations continue.

Also, if a federal employee or facility is involved in a particular research project, that employee or facility won’t be available during the shutdown.

However, Rankin says the current federal shutdown has brought with it less immediate uncertainty to the research world than the federal sequester did earlier in the year.

"In that case, we weren't quite sure what was going to happen. We didn't know if specific grants were going to be cut, so we were unknown in that particular situation. In this one, we're told just go ahead and do the research as long as you have funds, and so we have a better feeling. I think the big question this time is how long it's going to last," says Rankin.

Rankin says he’s hopeful the shutdown will be short so that the research world can get back to business as usual.