Here is a link to a useful blog post written by NH Deputy Director Sally Rockey. It summarizes some of the main activities at NIH during the course of 2013. While it begins with a depressing recap of the far-reaching effects of the budget situation, it goes on to highlight some of the main goals and programs of the year. Major themes continue to include data science and efforts to diversify the scientific workforce. The blog is chock-full of hyperlinks to more information on numerous topics. If you plan to develop a long-term relationship with a federal funding agency, it is important to know its mission and funding priorities, and to familiarize yourself each year with the goals identified in the director’s appropriation report, and the suggestions made by the advisory council to the director. Read the full blog post here.
As expected, with no Congressional agreement on FY14 funding, and with too much Obamacare-related animosity for Congress even to agree to a temporary bill to fund at FY13 levels, the US federal government shut down at midnight last night. This morning the NIH released a notice to grantees concerning the government shutdown. Highlights include the following:
SUBMISSION OF GRANT APPLICATIONS: For the duration of the funding lapse, applicants are strongly encouraged not to submit paper or electronic grant applications to NIH during the period of the lapse. Adjustments to application submission dates that occur during the funding lapse will be announced once operations resume. For any applications submitted immediately prior to or during the funding lapse, here is what will happen.
- For electronic submissions through Grants.gov: Grants.gov will be open and can accept electronic applications. However, applications will not be processed by NIH until the eRA Systems are back on-line. NIH will ensure that all applications submitted within the two business days before or during the funding lapse will receive the full viewing window once the systems are back on-line.
- For electronic submission of multi-project applications through NIH’s ASSIST system: The ASISST system will not be available until NIH systems are back on-line.
- Paper Submissions: Staff will not be available to receive paper applications during a funding lapse.
The safest course is to wait to submit any application to NIH until after operations resume and a Notice in the NIH Guide concerning adjusted submission dates is posted.
CONTACT WITH NIH STAFF: For the duration of the funding lapse, NIH extramural employees will be prohibited from working (remotely or in the office).
PEER REVIEW AND COUNCIL MEETINGS: For the duration of the funding lapse, the NIH will not be able to conduct initial peer review meetings – whether in-person or through teleconferences or other electronic media. Also during this time, the NIH staff will not be able to send or receive email messages, or update website information, and NIH computer systems that support review functions will not be operational.
CURRENTLY ACTIVE GRANT AWARDS: For the duration of the funding lapse, all work and activities performed under currently active NIH grant awards may continue. However, see Notice for limits on performing many of the reporting requirements associated with NIH grant funding.
Here we go again folks. Fiscal year 2014 begins at midnight and once again there is no budget agreement. Normally when this happens, Congress votes to temporarily continue operating the federal budget at the levels from the previous fiscal year, as they continue to duke it out over funding issues. But this year, Obamacare has stirred up so much bipartisan animosity that a shutdown appears increasingly likely.
As I have written previously, I know only too well what happens during a government shutdown, as it happened in my first month of being a federal employee many years ago. All non-essential federal employees are furloughed. They may not work or travel for work, therefore all imminent trips planned by federal employees must be canceled. At NIH, the clinical center continues to operate and, for better or worse, we can still submit those R01s for the October 5 deadline. However, NSF has issued an announcement that while grants.gov may be operational, “FastLane proposal preparation and submission will be unavailable”.
And while NIH will be accepting those Oct 5 new R01 submissions, no doubt we can look forward to hideous delays in funding decisions in the upcoming months. Read more in an article posted this afternoon, on the eve of a likely government shutdown, from Science Insider.