Science shutdown blues

posted in: News | 3

We’ve heard a lot in the news about the closed state parks and monuments, but there hasn’t been much talk aimed at the general public about how science is being affected by the abrupt end of government business. The goal of this post is to collect shutdown information that might be of interest to Biofortified readers – in other words, shutdown news related to science, agriculture, and food.

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A plant science research lab, shuttered during the federal shutdown. Credit: KJHvM

I’ve spoken with quite a few friends about how their science has been affected by the shutdown but few have spoken out about the details. We want to hear from you… any government scientists, or any scientists or anyone else affected by the closure of all these great science agencies. We understand if you must stay anonymous, but still wish to hear your story.

Some quick background… Federal employees, unless they are deemed “essential”, would be breaking the law if they volunteered to work during the shutdown. This is based on a law called the Antideficiency Act. The GAO (Government Accounting Office) states that federal employees are prohibited from “accepting voluntary services for the United States, or employing personal services not authorized by law, except in cases of emergency involving the safety of human life or the protection of property”. Doctors taking care of patients at the NIH research hospital are essential. Technicians caring for research animals (in some cases) are essential. The majority of government scientists are not essential, therefore can not work during a shutdown – if they did, they would be breaking the law.

I’ll keep updating this page as I see more links posted on Twitter and Facebook, share in the comments if you see one that I’ve missed.

And here are the government websites that are affected (ht 99trumpets for starting a list).

  • Closed
    • USDA (the entire department)
    • NSF (including Research.gov and FastLane)
    • NOAA (although parts are still open)
    • NASA (including the following satellite data collection systems that are used by many scientists: Reverb, ECHO, LANCE, GIBS, URS, Worldview, and the Earthdata Collaboration Environment)
    • USGS (except for basic earthquake/natural-hazard info related to protecting human lives and property)
  • Open (with disclaimer that it will not be updated during the shutdown)
Follow Anastasia Bodnar:
Anastasia is Policy Director of Biology Fortified, Inc. and the Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. She has a PhD in genetics with a minor in sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. Her favorite produce is artichokes!
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