With the failure of the House and Senate to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the federal government funded past Sept. 30, the federal government has partially shutdown as of Oct. 1.
Annual appropriations typically extend to the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, and normally Congress puts new appropriations in place to take effect starting Oct. 1. A shutdown means that previously-appropriated budget authority has expired, and Congress has failed to provide new authority for the new fiscal year. Programs and employees that take their funding from this annual cycle are either furloughed or must cease operations.
Some programs and employees are exempt from this disruption in funding due to the source of their funding or in order to ensure the safety of human life or protection of property. One example would include select NASA activities in support of the International Space Station and other satellite missions currently in the operation phase.
Unfortunately for federally funded research, the vast majority of staff and programs are in the "non-exempt" category, meaning they will be directly affected by the expiration of budget authority. This does not mean all government-funded R&D will cease. Extramural researchers, who do not require immediate intervention or oversight from civil servants or are not waiting on disbursal of actual funding, may continue their work. However, most intramural research activities may be impacted.
The White House Office of Management and Budget has collected the most current agency contingency plans here. Key R&D agency plans can be found below:
Department of Health and Human Services (NIH, CDC and others): 73 percent of NIH staff would be furloughed. NIH staff would maintain their animal stock, research infrastructure and data. Most FDA monitoring programs and CDC outbreak programs, including its seasonal influenza work, would cease.
Department of Energy: Most DOE R&D staff would be furloughed. Some DOE staff would 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. A few hundred staff within the National Nuclear Security Administration are exempt.
National Science Foundation: Virtually all staff is 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 will not be made during the disruption, but research that does not require federal employee intervention may proceed.
NASA: As mentioned above, ISS 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 the NASA website is shutdown.