The federal government ceased many functions on October 1, beginning what is known as a “government shutdown.” Tuesday, October 1, 2013 was the first day of Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) for the federal government. The federal government runs on a fiscal year from October 1 to September 30, and is required by the Constitution to be funded by laws passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. The House of Representatives and Senate have not been able to reconcile their differences on the appropriations bills which fund the government for FY14. As a result many government functions stopped due to a gap in appropriations.
Over 800,000 federal government employees are estimated to be furloughed and agencies are running with only “essential” employees. Essential employees are those necessary to protect public health, safety or property, as well as those to carry out constitutional responsibilities. Federal employees whose salaries are paid from sources outside an annual spending bill can still get paid and report to work. Each agency determines who is considered essential, based on guidance from the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management and review by the White House.
Agencies have been in touch with grantees in advance of today with guidance on how to proceed with services paid for by federal funds. In addition, the federal departments have issued operating procedures on how to proceed during the government shutdown. Learn more about what is affected by a government shutdown at http://www.usa.gov/shutdown.shtml.
The length of the shutdown is not yet determined, but Congress will eventually have to put aside its differences and ensure the services of the government once again. According to the Congressional Research Service, there have been 17 shutdowns since 1977. On average, most last no more than three days. Some last less than a day. The longest (and also most recent) shutdown in history lasted three weeks, from December 16, 1995 through January 5, 1996.
The government shutdown will end immediately after the president signs a spending bill into law. Before a spending bill can be presented to the president, it must be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
During the government shutdown, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will continue patient care for current NIH Clinical Center patients, minimal support for ongoing protocols, animal care services to protect the health of NIH animals, and minimal staff to safeguard NIH facilities and infrastructure.
Until the shutdown is over, NIH will not admit new patients into clinical trials (unless deemed medically necessary by the NIH Director), or initiate new protocols. NIH will also discontinue some veterinary services.
NIH will not take any actions on grant applications or awards. For researchers with previously awarded grants, NIH states that "all work and activities performed under currently active NIH grant awards may continue," however there are "limits on performing many of the reporting requirements associated with NIH grant funding" and "the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted." Grant applicants and grantees can find more information at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-13-126.html.