A lapse in federal funding, or a government shutdown, occurs when Congress and the President fail to agree to a new appropriations bill for one or more of the federal government agencies. The most recent partial government shutdown, ending in January 2019, affected about 25% of government agencies (in dollar terms). The Department of Homeland Security and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were among those agencies whose ability to spend new funds were impacted by the government shutdown. The remaining agencies already funded through enacted appropriations with funds available through the end of September 2019 included agencies such as the Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
This article provides insight on the potential impact of a government shutdown for those contractors or grantees who might be affected by a funding lapse, such as academic medical centers (AMCs) or clinical researchers. Like most government rules, those related to a shutdown have room for interpretation. The bottom line: if you have a federal contract or grant, advance communication with the agency is the best preventative medicine. It is always prudent to ask the agency at the onset of the contract or grant work, and to validate just prior to the likelihood of a funding lapse, about how such an event may affect the specific contract or grant.
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