UK to operate normally during government shutdown

By Anne Halliwell

[email protected]

Though the federal government’s lights have officially gone out, the government shutdown won’t have a major impact on UK unless it is extended for a long period.

“If the shutdown were to go on for a number of weeks, it would become more critical,” said James Tracy, the vice president for research at UK.

At 12 a.m. on Tuesday, the government shut down because Congress failed to agree on a budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

As a result, all nonessential government functions have paused while the debate continues.

This means any government-funded project that did not earn Congressional approval before Oct. 1 have shut down as well.

UK will continue business as usual for the time being, according to an email sent to all faculty and staff by Eric Monday, the executive vice president for finance and administration.

“With the expectation that the shutdown will be brief, we have decided at this time not to make any changes to operating procedures or processes,” the email read. “However, should the shutdown continue for an extended period, the university may be forced to take steps to manage this reduction in reimbursements.”

Tracy said the shutdown should not have a major impact on UK’s research studies as long as it lasts only a short while.

If it is extended, “we’ll have to consider what (programs) to suspend,” he said.

Tracy said all federal funding UK receives is important.

The National Institute of Health is the largest sponsor of UK’s research department, providing almost $100 million in expenditures to UK in the 2012 fiscal year, Tracy said.

According to the NIH website, the UK Superfund Research Program focuses on nutrition and superfund chemical toxicity.

In addition, Tracy said the College of Agriculture also receives some mandatory funds and sponsor agreements from the United States Department of Agriculture.

“(They) really drive the research programs,” he said of the funding.

Federal research grants for 2013 have already been awarded; however, reimbursement from the government for money spent during the shutdown may be difficult in some cases, he said.

“Basically, it says that… we are allowed to continue work on these grants as long as we are able to get reimbursed,” he said.

About 70 percent of UK’s grants are automatically funded electronically, but the other 30 percent depend on government employees to process and respond to the monetary requests.

Tracy said employee furloughs may cause the money from those grants to stop for as long as the shutdown continues.

New grants also cannot be applied for or awarded during the shutdown, Tracy said.

The latest information about the impact of the government shutdown on UK-sponsored projects is available at Agency contingency plans are being posted as they become available.