Office of the President

December 31, 2018

Federal shut down harms American innovation, prosperity

Ana Mari Cauce

It is deeply disappointing that a quarter of the federal government has been shut down due to an inability to reach agreement on appropriations for the current budget year. This means a range of federal agencies are unable to perform critical work for the American people. It also means 800,000 public servants have been furloughed or are working without pay, which places untold burdens on them and their families. These federal employees have devoted their careers to serving our nation in myriad ways, and our thoughts and sympathy are with them as they deal with the effects of the shut down on their lives.

While we do not anticipate any major disruptions to student services, such as federal financial aid, among the agencies that are affected by the shut down are a number that the UW is proud to partner with as we answer fundamental questions and create next-generation innovations. These critical agencies – ranging from the National Science Foundation and Environmental Protection Agency, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture – are currently in funding limbo, unable to conduct operations as basic as reviewing and awarding grants. The UW Office of Research has a page listing the shut down’s effects on federal research agencies.

More important that any single round of grant funding, however, is maintaining our nation’s global leadership in science and innovation in an ever more competitive world. That leadership requires long-term and consistent funding commitments. The vacillating directions of federal research agencies based on political ideologies, coupled with the repeated specter of shut downs or budget cuts, undermines decades of Americans’ investments in research and innovation. This situation doesn’t just harm researchers and universities, it harms the United States’ well-being, prosperity and leadership in the world.

I strongly urge Congress and the administration to find a way forward quickly that funds these agencies so they can resume their missions of advancing discovery — and our nation.