Government Shutdown’s Impact on UCSF Depends on Duration

October 03, 2013

The federal government closure that started Oct. 1 is expected to have minimal impact on UC San Francisco – providing it does not last for more than a few weeks.

If the closure is protracted, UCSF and the 10-campus University of California system are expected to face a number of challenges as a result.

UCSF leaders in research and education say there should be limited impact in the short term, given previous allocations for Medicaid and existing funds for current research and education.

However, since most of the 52 percent of employees who have been furloughed at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services fall under the department’s grant-making and “employee-intensive” agencies, biomedical research and new clinical trials are expected to be delayed if the closure continues.

Significantly for UCSF’s research enterprise, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) asked researchers to hold off on applying for new grants – despite the Oct. 5 deadline for the December/January round of funding – until the government has reopened. NIH also has said it will not initiate new clinical trials until the shutdown is over.

UCSF received the second-largest number of NIH grants last year, and the largest amount of NIH funding of any public research institution.

The UC Office of the President has issued the following Q&A on the impact of the federal government shutdown:

Q: How will the federal government shutdown impact the University of California?

The impact will depend on the length of a federal government shutdown. UC expects limited impact in the first week or so. If the shutdown goes on longer than a week or two, the University will likely feel some disruption. UC officials are monitoring the situation closely and continuing to urge Congress to fund the government, complete the FY 2014 budget process and provide strong funding for UC’s federal priorities.

Q: How will a government shutdown impact research at UC?

The University expects little to no immediate impact on current research funding during a short government shutdown. Of course, this assessment will change depending on how long a federal government shutdown lasts. In general, with the federal government shutdown, new research grants would not be awarded.

Q: How will the federal government shutdown impact federal education funding to UC, including federal financial aid?

It is important to underscore that for federal financial aid programs the budget that the government is working to finalize now applies to fiscal year 2014, which is academic year 2014-2015 that starts on July 1, 2014. The final funding totals would affect Pell Grants that are issued after July 1, 2014. The University of California urges Congress to preserve Pell Grant funding.

If the federal government shutdown is short, there would not likely be a negative impact on UC’s educational services and financial aid programs. However, UC is concerned about a prolonged shutdown, or cuts that may be made if Congress agrees to further spending reductions. UC supports strong and sustained funding for education programs.

UC officials say they will do all they can to shield UC students from harmful effects of a short government shutdown, including – if need be – advancing UC funds to substitute for federal financial aid so that financial aid reaches the students when promised. Again, UC does not expect a short federal government shutdown to have an immediate impact on its students or educational services.

Q: How will the federal government shutdown impact health care at UC?

UC is committed to providing services to the many Americans who we have contracted with the federal government to provide services to, such as Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, among others. This commitment will continue.

However, UC is among the largest providers of these services in California and the University needs to pay its bills, including paying doctors and nurses. While UC can help ensure services continue, there is no precedent for a prolonged shutdown.