The government shutdown lasted 16 days and has caused significant problems for federally funded researchers. How quickly the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies will be running at full strength. What actions will these agencies take to clear the backlog created by the shutdown?
The NIH and NSF stated in their shutdown notices that grant applications should not be submitted during the shutdown. At the NIH, several deadlines passed during the shutdown—Oct. 5 for new R01 applications, Oct. 12 for new K series grants, and Oct. 16 for several other new R series grant. The NIH must now reschedule these due dates. The NSF website does not list grant application due dates that have been missed, but any that have will also need to be rescheduled. Presumably, eRA Commons, Fastlane and Grants.gov will be fully operational once the new grant deadlines have been set.
Grant review panels, or study sections, must also be rescheduled. This is significantly more difficult than rescheduling application due dates because agencies need to evaluate if in-person meetings are worthwhile to clear out the backlog of unreviewed grants. Some scientists are concerned that teleconference study sections have a different dynamic than in-person meetings thereby damaging the chances of some grants to get funded.
Additionally, grants submitted immediately prior to the shutdown need to be processed and any problems rectified. Any scientists who had problems using their grant funds during the shutdown will need a speedy resolution to resume the work of their labs. Finally, all intramural research activities were suspended during the shutdown, and vital experiments and collaborations need to rapidly be brought back up to speed.
It is unclear how long it will take for the NIH, NSF and others to work through these issues or whether the shutdown will result in funding delays. Follow the ASBMB Policy Blotter as we follow this rapidly developing story.