Update on the effect of the government shutdown

Dear Members of the Johns Hopkins University Community, 

Today marks the first day of the new federal fiscal year. Unfortunately, none of the regular appropriations bills has been enacted. These provide funding for most, but not all, of government. Consequently, the nation is experiencing a "government shutdown." 

While there will be many visible signs of the shutdown, such as the closure of national parks across the country and the Smithsonian museums in Washington, in the near term, we do not expect that the work of Johns Hopkins students, faculty, or staff will be directly affected. We do recognize, however, that many within our community may have family or friends who are federal employees who could experience negative ramifications. 

Certain aspects of the federal government operate by virtue of permanent (mandatory) spending authority or dedicated funding streams. Others are deemed essential activities (for the protection of life or property) and thus are permitted to continue in the absence of appropriations. Many federal employees went to work this morning only to find out they are “not essential” and, therefore, were sent home. 

If you or your colleagues find the shutdown has a direct impact on your work, please contact Beth Felder (bfelder@jhu.edu) in the Office of Government and Community Affairs. We would like to share your thoughts with members of the Maryland congressional delegation.

For now, here are some important details:

At the National Institutes of Health, patient care will continue for current NIH Clinical Center patients, but no new patients will be admitted unless deemed medically necessary by the director. We also understand that NIH facilities will be supported for ongoing protocols, animal care services to protect the health of NIH animals, and security to safeguard NIH facilities and infrastructure. 

The Grants.gov portal will be up and running so applications can continue to be submitted, but no action will be taken until appropriations are enacted. Many staff at the agency will be furloughed, so they will not be available to provide routine administrative support services. The Payment Management System will continue processing grant drawdown requests. However, if a notice of grant award includes restrictive terms and conditions, or if a drawdown request triggers one of the Payment Management System edit checks and/or the drawdown limit controls, a drawdown will not be possible. 

Note that, in contrast, the National Science Foundation has advised that funding will not be available to grantees. Skeleton crews also will be in place at several other key agencies. NASA will keep its Mission Control Center in Houston operating, but much of the rest of the agency plans to close. More details can be found via the links below. 

At the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) many of the activities related to the Affordable Care Act will continue, including coordination between Medicaid and the marketplace, as well as insurance rate reviews and assessment of a portion of insurance premiums used on medical services.

The Medicare Program will continue largely without disruption. Other non-discretionary activities including those of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan activities also will continue. States will have funding for Medicaid and for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Note that CMS will not have funding for health care fraud and abuse strike force teams resulting in the cessation of their operations.

With respect to student financial aid, funding for Direct Student Loans is provided through mandatory appropriations, and the program is expected to operate as normal. Mandatory and carryover funding also is available for servicing contracts and many other administrative functions at the Department of Education. Click here for additional information.

Be aware that President Obama signed the “Pay Our Military Act” late Monday. This bill ensures that active-duty military service members, plus civilians and contractors with the departments of Defense and Homeland Security who support active-duty troops and guardsmen, still will be paid.

For more detailed information, please note the following provided by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The White House Office of Management and Budget has collected most current agency contingency plans here, and direct links to a few key research and development agency plans are below in blue.

  • Department of Health and Human Services (NIH, CDC, and others): 73 percent of NIH staff will be furloughed. Some of those who remain will continue providing inpatient and outpatient care for current patients of the NIH Clinical Center, though no new patients will be accepted. NIH staff also will maintain their animal stock, research infrastructure, and data. Most FDA monitoring programs and CDC outbreak programs, including seasonal influenza work, will cease.
  • Department of Energy: There are exceedingly few employments in most DOE R&D offices that will be exempt from the funding disruption. A handful of DOE staff will remain at the Office of Science and its national labs, and at the offices for efficiency, renewables, nuclear power and fossil energy; none would remain at ARPA-E. Unsurprisingly given the agency's mission, a few hundred staff within the National Nuclear Security Administration are exempt.
  • National Science Foundation: Virtually all staff are to be furloughed, with those remaining responsible for the protection of life and property. NSF will be sending notices to awardees informing them that payments won't be made during the disruption, but that research that doesn't require federal employee intervention may proceed.
  • NASA: International Space Stations support and operational satellite missions will continue, but pre-launch development activities will mostly halt. As with other agencies, no new contracts or grants will be issued, and apparently citizens will not have "access to the NASA website."
  • USDA Research, Education, and Economics (website is also shut down): Just about all staff at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service will be furloughed, though the Agricultural Research Service will retain several hundred staff to safeguard research animal populations, IT infrastructure, and other assets.

Our hope is that these issues will be resolved soon. Please monitor the websites noted above for updates regarding your grants and initiatives. We will try to keep you informed of any major changes. 

Thank you for all you do for the Johns Hopkins University community. Together we will manage through this.


Robert C. Lieberman

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Johns Hopkins University