Impact of Gov't. Shutdown on NSF

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Office of the Director

Notice No. 119
January 19, 1996


Subject: Impact of partial government shutdowns and short-term continuing resolutions on NSF operations.

Since the beginning of FY 1996 on October 1, 1995, NSF has operated without an appropriation on a series of short-term continuing resolutions. Moreover, the agency has experienced two periods of shutdown totalling almost four weeks during which we had no funds available either for funding awards or to pay NSF staff to perform their work. This has led to canceled panel meetings and workshops, proposals piling up in our mail room, and delays in meeting our FY 1996 commitments. We now operate under a continuing resolution effective only through January 26, 1996.

Because the time period of the most recent shutdown occurred during semester breaks for many academic institutions, the hiatus in NSF activity may have had minimal apparent impact to date. This Important Notice covers effects of the shutdown itself as well as the related uncertainties surrounding operating for almost one-third of Fiscal Year 1996 on successive continuing resolutions.

In addressing this situation, NSF staff are committed to minimizing the damage to science and engineering and permitting the researchers and educators we support to continue their work with as little interruption as possible. But it will be impossible to mitigate all impacts of the shutdown and the limited, prorated funding available through short-term continuing resolutions. The time period we have lost is one that is critical to the smooth functioning of the proposal review process.

Partial Government Shutdown

Immediate Impact on NSF and NSF Customer Services

Intermediate and Long-Term Impacts on NSF and the Science and Engineering Community

Short-Term Continuing Resolution

Immediate Impact on NSF

The continuing resolutions have been based on the lower of House or Senate actions on NSF's request for Fiscal Year 1996 or the Fiscal Year 1995 appropriation. For NSF's research and related activities account, that is significantly lower than the request for 1996. Only a prorated portion of this amount is available for obligation. Implementation of NSF planning for FY 1996 is extremely difficult because of the uncertainty as to the final budget level. In particular, program officers do not have final program budgets, yet must make decisions on a continuing basis.

Intermediate and Long-Term Impacts on NSF and the Science and Engineering Community

For some large awards, both new awards and continuing increments, NSF will have to make successive partial awards for less than twelve months, rather than providing the amount for a full year at one time.

Given the unprecedented nature of this year's budget process, there are likely to be impacts that we cannot anticipate at this time. We will continue to keep you informed periodically. The most current information will be posted regularly on the NSF Home Page on the World Wide Web (

Neal Lane


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