The current funding stalemate

Jan 10 2013 Published by under [Education&Careers]

Funding agencies are in a tough spot right now. Like every federal agency, they have no idea what their budget will be for the coming year. The budgetary disaster we have in Congress right now means that many of the 2012 applicants who agencies want to fund, are being left in limbo. In the case of NSF Bio, many of us are having to resubmit our preproposals from last year even though our full proposals are being "held for funding". I know a number of people in this position, myself included. It feels a bit like this:


From the I Fucking Love Science FB page, $3M behind glass made by 3M. If you can get it, it's yours. That's me in panel 2.

For those of us sweating out a decision (maybe until the summer!) it means recruiting students who we might not be able to pay. It means making plans around work that might not be funded. It means submitting abstracts for conferences that we might not be able to pay for.

In a typical year* we would know where we stand by now, but the congressional pissing contest is pushing everything back. And so we wait. In our stress-free jobs.

*Well, maybe this type of thing is becoming the "typical" and smooth years are now the exception.

5 responses so far

  • Genestumbler says:

    Thanks for precisely summing up the hell I'm caught in... although I was advised by my NSF PO to not put resubmit the preliminary proposal.

    I've heard that NIH is telling people (with fundable priority scores) that many institutes can't set their paylines until the budget is passed. They're under continuing resolution until the end of March, and it's likely that Congress will pass another CR, which will further delay the budget. It might be October 2013 before monies are doled out for grants in the 2012 review.

  • Genomic Repairman says:

    You must crane kick the glass PLS-san. Or sweep the leg.

  • LD says:

    I kind of saw this coming, although not the specifics, so I "saved" some money that I otherwise would have blown through (mostly internal money). Everyone around me was always saying you have to spend money to make money, and that is also true in science, but I could not envision funding rates doing anything other than going down. So now I am in the position that although I was recommended for funding, it was not at high enough priority, but I will still be able to complete the first part of the work I had proposed (full proposal) last August to DEB. If my pre-proposal gets me an invitation again this year, I can include the summer's work in the full proposal and that should boost my chances.

  • Mike says:

    Our department has 20 faculty and a T32. We cannot find 5 faculty who are prepared to fund a postdoc *without having to pay the salary*, except the new faculty who aren't eligible because of no track record of mentorship. We have had 4 postdocs out of the desired 5 for quite a while. 1 of whom was recruited for the T32, the other 3 were here anyway and just shifted to it.

  • Dave says:

    I'm in precisely this situation at the NIH. The PO told me they won't know anything until March and right now are only funding very very conservatively. It's honestly a nightmare, but there are some who think it will be well into the summer before they have a budget so it could get a lot. If the sequester goes through I can certainly wave goodbye to my grant.

Leave a Reply