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Government shutdown affects Office of Sponsored Programs

The recent Federal Government partial shutdown has caught nationwide attention as it affected the lives of many, including the UMBC community. The shutdown began on Dec. 22 and lasted until Jan. 25, making it the longest government shutdown in history. The shutdown was due to a disagreement between President Trump and Congress on funding for border security. In just 35 days, the economy took an $11 billion hit, including $3 billion that cannot be replenished.

The UMBC Office of Sponsored Programs negotiates financial sponsorships with federal organizations, submits proposals and manages awards. OSP works with unit administrators to assist staff in proposal preparation and creating sponsorship guidelines. They also conduct sponsored project training, education and communication. The OSP collaborates with the Office of Contract and Grant Accounting in managing extramural awards and campus initiatives for sponsored projects.

As a result of the partial shutdown, the OSP and OCGA’s functionality was restricted. “The recent partial Federal Shutdown had significant impacts on federally funded research at UMBC. Proposal submittal deadlines were delayed and award actions could not be processed,” says Stanley Jackson, Director of OSP. “For some affected agencies, UMBC was not able to collect reimbursement for expenses during the shutdown.”

Like many other businesses, the OSP was forced to make accommodations and plan ahead just in case the shutdown was prolonged. “We were within days of having to start shutting down some projects including one multi-million dollar project. This would not only have required UMBC to start laying off some researchers but could have also impacted the visas for some individuals employed on several research projects,” Jackson states. Additionally, some UMBC employees who work at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center were forced to work from home or find other accommodations while the center was closed.

Many UMBC students were also affected by the government shutdown, including Tara Kitchelt, a Music Vocal Performance major. “My dad works for OPM [the United States Office of Personnel Management] … when I came home for winter break he wasn’t working, and when I went back to school he still wasn’t working,” says Kitchelt. “We missed out on two paychecks, and I had to take money out of my savings … my mom had to continue working full time in order to pay for everything.”

President Freeman Hrabowski addressed the UMBC community in an email sent out on Jan. 28, acknowledging the drastic impact the shutdown has had. “Many … are still feeling the effects of the partial federal government shutdown that ended this past weekend … as we continue to hope for a prompt resolution that will avert another shutdown and fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, we ask everyone in our community to consider those affected by the shutdown and what they might do to help.”