Provost outlines affects of possible government shutdown

With the possibility of a federal government shutdown on the horizon, university Provost Robert C. Lieberman on Sept. 25 alerted the Johns Hopkins community as to how research funding and other issues vital to university operations might be affected.

The text of his email is as follows:

Dear Members of the Johns Hopkins University Community:

The federal government's new fiscal year begins on Thursday, October 1. As of today, none of the appropriations necessary to fund operations of the government in FY 2016 have been enacted. We anticipate that a short-term funding measure (known as a continuing resolution, or CR) will be enacted to avert a shutdown. Nonetheless, we also need to be prepared for the possibility that this will not occur prior to October 1.

As in the past, the initial direct impact of a government shutdown on the university would be minimal, but a continuing closure would at some point affect our normal functioning.

When a 16-day shutdown occurred in October 2013, federal agencies provided guidance to institutions like ours, outlining what they would and would not be able to do. To date, that guidance has not been issued, but we understand that agencies have been instructed by the administration to begin planning. Because federal law grants some discretion to the executive branch in how it manages lapses in funding, the impact of a shutdown may vary from one department or agency to another.

From past experience, we know that we might have difficulty receiving already-awarded research grant money from the government to reimburse our expenditures. We might receive stop-work orders on some government contracts. Faculty members might not be able to apply for new grants, and grant applications might not undergo review in a timely manner. There might be limits on the availability of government research tools such as databases and equipment, on the ability of our students to complete scheduled research or internship stints in federal facilities, and on other routine activities. It is important to note that a shutdown is highly unlikely to affect student financial aid.

The university is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to do so. We will advise you of significant developments as they occur. If there is a shutdown, we will also go live with a special shutdown information Web page similar to the one the university posted during the 2013 shutdown.


Robert C. Lieberman
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
The Johns Hopkins University