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Monday, September 30, 2013
Shutdown Watch The Latest Shutdown Information for NIH- and NSF-Funded Researchers
Unless lawmakers reach a last-minute deal to keep the government open, at midnight tonight the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) will go into a sort of hibernation mode. For more information on the shutdown, see this post from Jeffrey Mervis and David Malakoff on our sister siteScienceInsider.
On Friday, we described the likely impact on scientists funded by NIH and NSF if an agreement to continue funding the federal government isn't reached by midnight tonight. Here's what we've learned since Friday:
As noted on Friday, NIH-funded researchers can continue their research for as long as their money holds out.
NIH's Center for Scientific Review (CSR) will cancel study section meetings on a rolling basis. In-person meetings will be canceled 2 days in advance, and electronic meetings will be canceled 1 day in advance. "CSR has canceled face-to-face review meetings scheduled for tomorrow and Wednesday," NIH says in a statement. "These meetings will be rescheduled to meet electronically—phone, online, or video—when possible. Two-day meetings that began today may run late into the evening." At those meetings, more proposals may be triaged. "Reviewers may be asked to discuss only about 40 percent of them vs. about 50 percent as usual so they can finish their work today," NIH says.
NIH Web sites will not be available during the shutdown, so scientific review officers (SROs) are encouraging reviewers to download any materials they need from NIH's Web site today, for proposals being discussed at upcoming meetings. "This email is just to let you know that if a shutdown does occur, reviewers will not have access to government websites (including IAR [Internet Assisted Review])", writes the SRO of a study section that is scheduled to meet next week, "and I will be unable to work or otherwise communicate with reviewers while a shutdown is in progress. So I would suggest that you make sure to download all materials you may need from the IAR website sometime today if possible (application images, orientation materials/scoring guidance, zApps file from the Meeting Materials folder, etc.)."
A document sent by NSF to its "proposer and awardee communities" starts by noting that, "NSF will not be available to respond to emails or phone calls during the shutdown, but will respond to your inquiries as soon as practicable after normal operations have been resumed."
For those already funded by NSF: NSF will make no payments for the duration of the shutdown. If a report on your research is due, you won't be able to submit it because Research.gov will be closed. No one will be available to process no-cost extensions, so "federal funds cannot be obligated for expenses that occur beyond the expiration date."
Those hoping to apply for NSF funding will have to wait. While it still may be possible to submit a proposal to Grants.gov, Fastlane will be closed, so your application won't make it all the way to NSF.
For reviewers: All review panels scheduled during the shutdown will be canceled, and Fastlane will not be available for submission of ad hoc reviews