Budget Woes

Everyone’s impacted by the shutdown in the federal government in some way.  First and foremost are federal employees, including research scientists at NOAA, NASA, and the other research-minded federal agencies.  Not only are these individuals locked out of their workplaces, with their laptops confiscated, they are not allowed to work from home, in any capacity.  Consider the following case:

The shutdown coincided with the release of the 5th IPCC report, numerous federal research scientists are listed as authors of that document.  Several researchers from the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (you can click that link, but of course it won’t take you anywhere) involved in the report, who are also adjunct faculty at the UW, had organized a town hall style event on the day of the shutdown to talk about the report.  They were threatened with a $5,000 fine if they violated the furlough by attending.  Instead a single UW professor, knowledgeable of but not an expert on the diverse topics covered in the report, presented on the report for a packed house.  An important outreach opportunity was much diminished – I suspect that Ted Cruz would view this as a minor victory.  Outreach is considered to be an essential part of science, particularly climate science, and is something that most of us volunteer some amount of our time for.  The strict rules regarding how this plays out for federal employees during a furlough highlights the absurdity of the current budget fight.

At a similar level of absurdity is the current situation with the US Antarctic Program, which has just been placed in “caretaker” status until the situation is resolved.  Apparently re-deploying personnel and equipment at great expense is the fiscally responsible thing to do…

Closer to home I think that I, and other graduate students on certain federal fellowships, won’t receive stipends until this is over (students whose fellowships are administered by their institution should be fine).  This isn’t entirely clear, but all the people who know whether or not we will get paid are on furlough.  Given that I make about as much as a graduate student as I did as a junior NCO 10 years ago, that’s going to be interesting.  At least no one is going to kick me out of my building and take my laptop…

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One Response to Budget Woes

  1. Jeff Jeff says:

    Update –
    Thank you to UW Oceanography for picking up the federal government’s slack and covering my salary during the shutdown!

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