What the government shutdown means to UNMC

by Karen Burbach, UNMC public relations | October 02, 2013

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The government shutdown will impact UNMC to varying degrees, campus leaders said.

While no one knows how long it may last, it's certain to frustrate - especially those within the research community, who already are dealing with impacts of sequestration.

"With the shutdown, the NIH (National Institutes of Health) will not be processing grants and will be unable to respond to requests for information on submitted grants," said Jennifer Larsen, M.D., vice chancellor for research. "We do not know how other federal funding agencies will address the shutdown but based on sequestration, we assume all processes will slow down."

Each day of the shutdown creates a bigger federal backlog. The longer the shutdown, the greater the impact.

Mark Bowen, director of government relations

When a grant decision is delayed, research personnel may need to be paid from another source, which can burden the enterprise, Dr. Larsen said. "We are concerned the government shutdown will further slow down grant reviews and funding decisions around NIH applications."

The NIH has encouraged applicants not to submit grants during the shutdown, but Sponsored Programs Administration will continue to review applications, said Deborah Vetter, director of Sponsored Programs. "Investigators should continue to work on grants so they're well prepared to meet any new timelines," she said, noting that Oct. 7 is NIH's next major grant deadline. SPA staff is submitting applications on behalf of UNMC investigators to the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program for a series of October deadlines.

See sidebar for additional updates and resources.

You may not notice immediate effects, said John Russell, assistant vice chancellor of human resources -- unless you're contacting a federal agency for a passport or Social Security information.

Background checks are still available, but the E-Verify system -- an Internet-based system used to determine the eligibility of employees to work in the U.S. - is not available, Russell said. I-9 (employment eligibility verification) forms, however, must be completed as usual.

The shutdown could impact research funding that pays for graduate students and post docs, said Dele Davies, M.D., vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean of graduate studies. Newly awarded research could especially be problematic, he said.

While funding for Medicare and Medicaid will not be impacted directly, the staff that answer billing questions and process enrollments are affected and could have an impact, Dr. Davies said, especially for the hospital. Hospital revenues help support UNMC's house officers and other education.

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