The Government Shutdown: Short-Term Impact but Long-Term Implications for Science and Medicine
On October 1, 2013, the U.S. government partial shutdown began. On October 16, an agreement was reached to end the budget impasse and fund federal agencies and programs – including NIH – at current levels through January 15, 2014. Although the government has recently been re-activated, the cessation of government function will continue to have short- and long-term effects on scientific and medical advancement. Specifically, trainees, as well as established investigators, were affected by the temporary funding impediments of scientific Web-based resources, such as ClinicalTrials.gov and PubMed, leading to limited accessibility to crucial updated literature.
The impact has continued even after the government reinstatement, as halted study sections for the October cycle of NIH-based training grants and fellowship funding (F32, K awards, etc.), as well as RO1s, need to be rescheduled, leaving trainee and P.I. funding at a stalemate as the review, renewal of current grants, and initiation of new grants were unable to occur. This lack of funding progress, in addition to the already diminished NIH pay-lines due to the recent sequestration, has the potential to cause scientific research, fellow training, and progress in clinical treatments to come to a screeching halt.
Academic institutions and individual laboratories will be impacted by the delay of indirect and direct funds, from the cancellation of grant reviews potentially resulting in hiring freezes for fellows, faculty, and personnel to the layoff of key lab members and hindered purchase of crucial supplies. Initiation of new government-funded clinical trials and patient record review and enrollment was stopped resulting in a potential loss of crucial scientific insights about disease as well as the inability of patients selected for trials to receive novel, and possibly lifesaving, care.
ASH encourages you to visit the ASH Advocacy Center to contact your elected officials and to do your part to facilitate a sustainable resolution to the ongoing crisis and enhance scientific progress and clinical development nationwide.