Sequestration and Your Federal Research Funding
As we are all very aware right now, sequestration went into effect on March 1. Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, approximately $85 billion in cuts will be implemented across Federal agencies for the remainder of the fiscal year. Though the largest funder of the research being done in the SODM, the DHHS, has not issued any specifics as to how the rest of the fiscal year will proceed under sequestration, an NIH policy notice issued on February 21 stated that under sequestration, FY13 funding levels will likely be reduced for continuation awards and fewer competing awards will be made. We are awaiting guidance from individual institutes to determine the actual impact to our research.
However, one thing that has been heard consistently is that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will be looking closely at award-related expenditures at universities. If current awarded funds are not spent in a timely manner, they are at risk of being de-obligated. This means that PIs should not conserve funds out of a sense of caution. Any dollars not expended by the end of the project period could be pulled back and we expect many no-cost extensions to be denied. The best advice is to examine your “burn rate” and keep spending on-track with the project calendar. A significant reserve could send up red flags.
The Society of Research Administrators has set up a site to host communications from federal agencies regarding their plans under sequestration. While we are working under limited information right now, please feel free to direct any questions to your Program Officer listed on your sponsor Notice of Award, email@example.com, or Sue Ambro in Sponsored Projects Administration (firstname.lastname@example.org, 368.4514).