Partial Shutdown Continues, New OSTP Director Kelvin Droegemeier

January 24, 2019

At press time, the 2019 partial federal government shutdown entered its 34th day, making it the longest government shutdown in history. Without a clear end in sight, the behavioral and brain research community is feeling the consequences.

The National Science Foundation, a critical support for behavioral and brain research, is one of the agencies affected by the partial shutdown. NSF is able to accept applications online during the shutdown. However, NSF program officers are furloughed, which means these applications are not being reviewed or approved. By point of comparison, by January 24, 2018, NSF had awarded 439 grants since the beginning of the year. Due to the shut down, NSF has not awarded a single grant in 2019. Furthermore, no NSF-supported workshops or conferences may occur during the shutdown. The NSF website is accessible during the shutdown, but not being updated. The Coalition for National Science Funding, of which FABBS is a member, sent this letter to the President and Congressional leadership on January 23rd.

Staff at the White House Office of Management and Budget are furloughed, which is expected to delay the first step of the annual appropriations process – the release of the Administration’s proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

Budgets for the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Education Sciences, both in the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriation bill, were enacted in September 2018.  While not directly affected by the current partial shutdown, these agencies are facing challenges in programs that work collaboratively with other federal agencies currently shut down. The Coalition for Health Funding, of which FABBS is a member, issued this statement about the detrimental impacts of the shutdown on health.

Other casualties of the partial government shutdown include the White House Office of Science and Technology, whose newly confirmed director, Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, cannot report to work.  Dr. Droegemeier will fill a critical position that has been vacant for nearly two years. Droegemeier has an extensive background in both research and policy. He has most recently served as the Vice President for Research at the University of Oklahoma, as well as the Cabinet Secretary of Science and Technology under the Governor of Oklahoma. Dr. Droegemeier served on the National Science Board, having been appointed by both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

If you have examples of how this partial shutdown is affecting your research, please consider sharing on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #ScienceShutdown.