Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Shut Down

The NSF core proposal in theoretical computer science, or Algorithmic Foundations as the NSF calls it, has three deadlines this academic year:
  • Medium proposals ($500k-$1.2m): October 15
  • Large proposals ($1.2m-$3m): November 19
  • Small proposals ($0-$500k): January 17
For the most part nearly every core program in computer science has the same deadlines, making it quite an interesting time in CS departments when most of the faculty are all submitting their proposals last minute in January.

Let's talk not about January but about October 15, next Tuesday. Good luck trying to download the proposal call for algorithmic foundations, or the NSF grant proposal guide, or submitting your proposal on Fastlane. All NSF links take you here, where you can read all about what is not happening at the NSF during the government shutdown. So what about October 15?
Once normal operations resume, NSF will issue guidance regarding any funding opportunities that have a deadline or target date that occurs during the government shutdown. Such information will be disseminated via a FastLane Advisory and other electronic methods.
In principle, the government could reopen for business Tuesday morning and the proposals would still be due Tuesday 5 PM. I would guess the deadline would be extended but there is nobody to ask, no one at the NSF to answer the phones and NSF employees are forbidden from responding to or even reading email. At least those that already have grants can keep spending their money, most importantly continuing to fund their students.

These are short term problems, the government will re-open at some point and the NSF will get back to business. But all discussions seem to lead to budget cutting and even just erasing the sequester of last year seems unlikely. The budget crises hasn't stopped Eric Cantor and Lamar Smith from continuing to trash some NSF grants.

Science is too important to be a pawn in politics. Investments in science have given incredible value back to America in terms of jobs and economic growth. Yet somehow science never gets mentioned as a tragedy in the Washington money battles.


  1. Getting politics out of science requires one of two things: 1) Getting politics out of government; 2) getting government out of science.

    1. as long as the govt is sending 4x as much money to other countries in aid as it is to the nsf my vote is to keep govt in funding science