Published: Jan. 18, 2019

Impact of Government Shutdown on Researchers

Aside from a few exceptions (e.g., National Institutes of Health and U.S. Departments of Energy and Education), most federal funding agencies remain closed due to the partial government shutdown. As we move into the fourth week of the government shutdown, we do not want to impact budgets through short-term practices that could have longer term negative impacts. Federally funded researchers need to take measures to assure that the deliverables of grants and the scope of the approved work are met. This also applies to subawards that are federal flow-through. Please also pay attention to spending and steward authorized funding with extra care. 

Below are the latest research updates:

Financial Impacts to Active Awards

Extending Expiring Period of Performance on an Award

If a department or PI wishes to extend an award that is ending during the shutdown, the Campus Controller's Office (CCO) is continuing to process those requests.  If time with no additional funding is intended, a No Cost Extension is the appropriate request. CCO will process the unofficial extension and OCG will submit the official request to the sponsor once the government re-opens. 

When the PI expects time with additional funding (incrementally funded awards), the At-Risk Extension is the appropriate form. CCO will extend the date in the campus finance system only.

Both types of extensions granted by CCO are unofficial until we receive the official award action from the sponsor. These are intended to allow continued spending after the current end date.  If no extension is processed, spending will be stopped by the system at the end date. This is a relatively new procedure and more information is available on CCO's Project Status Automation webpage.

These extensions are granted with the understanding that the department carries the financial risk if the sponsor does not authorize the additional time or funding. CCO has recommended that departments consider the additional risk the shutdown poses when submitting an extension during this time. 

Spending on Grants

Many reports are available to help departments and PIs manage the spending on their awards. As an award reaches 90/60/30 days prior to its end date, an email is automatically sent at the beginning of each month to affected PIs and departmental administrators. This report includes the awards ending as well as the current balance on those awards. All other reports are available on demand through the CU-Data application. The CCO Area Accountants are available to guide users who may be unsure which reports are best to monitor balances.

Though the ability to spend on grants continues, PIs should be aware that non-vital expenditures should be postponed, if possible. Additionally, costs that require sponsor pre-approval, such as travel costs and equipment purchases requiring agency pre-approvals, may not be reimbursed unless the agency, in its discretion, provides retroactive approval. The same applies for costs outside the period of performance or in excess of current budget authorization. Most funding supplements from affected agencies are not being issued and new monies from those federal agencies cannot be awarded until the federal shutdown has been resolved.

Invoicing for Awards

To the extent any federal systems are available, CCO will continue to bill as required.

Other Impacts to Current Existing Awards

Reporting Obligations

CCO is submitting financial reports and invoices to the extent possible. If a sponsor’s system is unavailable, CCO will email the appropriate contacts to maintain an audit trail for timely submission.  

Grant reporting obligations for technical reports, including annual and final technical reports, are still in effect and the original deadlines apply. While there may be no one at the affected agencies to review these reports, PIs must adhere to the reporting schedule according to their grant award terms and submit reports on time.  Again, care should be taken to adhere to award terms and not compromise the deliverables of the grants.

Agency Pre-Approvals Unavailable

Requests for approval to re-budget, pre-authorize travel or pre-authorize equipment purchases or repairs should be submitted to your department's assigned grant officer in the Office of Contracts and Grants (OCG) and will be submitted when the funding agency reopens.

Impacts to Proposals

New Grant Submissions

Opportunities through, NSF Fastlane and with posted deadlines are still in effect although submissions will not be processed until agency operations resume. Agency personnel are not available to answer questions about grant submissions.

Review Panels

Faculty and staff serving on a review panel for an agency that is currently shut down should consider cancelling their travel plans. Review panels are cancelled until further notice. Note: We do not anticipate that affected agencies will reimburse lost deposits or airfare. 

Request for All Official Notices

Faculty and staff who receive official notices directly from any federal agencies should forward the notice to OCG at

Please direct specific questions about your award to your Department's assigned Area Accountant (financial inquiries) or Grant Officer (non-financial inquiries).

Laura Ragin
Assistant Vice Chancellor & Controller

Denitta Ward
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation; Director, Office of Contracts and Grants