Sequestration

Published February 25, 2013

Questions have begun to arise as to the impact that "Sequestration"--the large, automatic, and across-the-board cuts in federal spending set to take effect March 1st unless action is taken in Washington--will have on federal research funding at the University at Buffalo for the immediate future and beyond.

[Please note: This memo reflects information current as of the date given below. The situation continues to change over time, and we will update our own information regarding this matter as soon as we learn of new developments.]

February 21, 2013
Dear Colleagues:
Questions have begun to arise as to the impact that "Sequestration"--the large, automatic, and across-the-board cuts in federal spending set to take effect March 1st unless action is taken in Washington--will have on federal research funding at the University at Buffalo for the immediate future and beyond.  The short answer is, we do not yet fully know. The longer answer is, we do expect some impact-minimal in some cases, perhaps more disruptive in others. Over half of our awarded research activity at UB is funded by the federal government, and the largest funders of UB research are the NIH and NSF, respectively. Here is what we know at the present time:

  • NIH:  We are seeing many NIH award notices being funded at 90% of the committed level for the next six months, under the "Continuing Resolution" that was passed in October 2012 to maintain budget levels while this year's federal fiscal budget is worked out.
  • NSF: One central focus of planning efforts by the NSF is to maintain existing awards while recognizing that there may be an impact on new research awards (not yet funded), as well as other NSF priorities.
  • Other federal agencies (e.g., Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, etc.):  Agency officials may review existing projects to restructure awards to reduce scope and cost.

Given the above, we believe it is safe to assume that already committed funding across all federal agencies will be handled along a range of no immediate impact (as indicated by NSF) to the level of reduction that NIH has begun to indicate.  Awards that have not yet been committed may face a more uncertain future, and it is likely that pending awards will be delayed, or in some cases, awards will not be issued at all.  Overall, however, until the Sequestration issue is resolved, there is no way to know what the federal budget will look like going forward, and thus no way to accurately predict its impact on research at the university level.