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Thomas C. Skalak

Thomas C. Skalak

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UVASkalak addresses potential impact of federal sequestration on UVA research

In a letter to the research community, Vice President Skalak outlines the possible impact at UVA.

February 28, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

I write to keep you informed on the developing research related issues regarding the scheduled March 1, 2013 federal sequestration. Please know President Sullivan and I in addition to the Governor and our federal consultants have communicated regularly to our Virginia federal delegation regarding the vital importanceof UVa research for the Commonwealth and the nation. We clearly signaled to our legislators the potential significant and damaging impact the impending sequestration could have on the University’s research program. As we all realize, the effects of sequestrationare about more than just loss of research dollars but how these critical resources support key activities driving the Commonwealth and country’s economic recovery through innovation and discovery.

However, if the sequestration moves forward on Friday, we want our schools and researchers to be prepared and plan for possible funding cuts to their programs. The information we have right now indicates that for FY 2013 non-defense agency budgets will be cut 5.1% across the board and defense agencies 7.3%.

NIH announced late last week that they planned to cut 5.1% from each Institute budget and these cuts could be managed differently at the Institute level. The notice warns that NIH likely will reduce funding levels of non-competing continuation grants, make fewer competing awards, and for continuation awards that have already been made, may not be able to reach the full FY 2013 commitment level described in the Notice of Award. Since the NIH continues to operate under a Continuing Resolution, all non-competing continuation awards are already currently being funded at a level below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90% of the previously committed level).

NSF and DOE outlined their possible effects of sequestration, but not as detailed as the NIH guidance. The NSF letter notes their plan to protect existing grant funding at current levels and make 1000 fewer awards, while the DOE letter is less specific about how they will prioritize. The links to the current NIH and NSF guidance letters are included below. All agency sequestration notices and other relevant information will be included on the VPR website.

As you see, at this stage, the full range of sequester details and impacts cannot be communicated because the agencies have not finalized their plans. We feel it is possible that some agencies may target existing grants that have large yearly carryovers and unfilled training slots. So along with grants that may not be issued, those that are behind on spending curves may also be targeted.

WHAT FACULTY CAN DO: We encourage investigators to communicate with their program managers to ensure they have specific and up-to-date information. To help insure continuity of existing research that may have ongoing maintenance costs (e.g. for preservation of samples or stocks with unique characteristics and value), we will encourage all Deans and Schools to prepare for back-up funding for
special needs. Please keep your schools well-informed of any issues you may anticipate with such special needs.

If you have specific concerns regarding your research program I encourage you to discuss them with your department chair and associate dean for research. We will work with the Schools, Provost and President to protect and enhance, to the extent possible, key strategic research activity moving forward.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the scheduled sequestration please feel free to contact me.

Thomas C. Skalak
Vice President for Research

CC: Teresa A. Sullivan, President; John D. Simon, Executive Vice President and Provost

Additional Information:
NIH guidance document
NSF guidance document
Letter from Secretary of Education
Letter from Secretuary of Energy
Letter from Gary Owens, UVA Professor (Support for Sen. Moran's amendment for supplemental funding of NIH and NSF)
Sequestration at UVA
Sequester and Continuing Resolution March 2013