Sequestration deadline passes; UO research VP launches site to track impact

Sequestration officially took effect on Friday, March 1. With the failure of Congress to pass legislation, President Obama was force to issue an $85 billion dollar cut, effective over the next seven months. The Office of Management and Budget released a memo Wednesday that anticipates sequestration equates to 9 percent cut to non-defense programs and a 13 percent cut to defense programs. Friday, the White House issued an order to begin sequestration cuts.

Congressional leaders met with the White House Friday, but failed to find a solution before the deadline. Meanwhile, five months into the federal fiscal year, agencies are operating without a final budget. The current continuing resolution requires Congress to pass a new budget or continuing spending authority for FY 2013 by March 27 or face a government shutdown. Congress and the White House may find a way to address the $85 billion cut while simultaneously addressing the FY 2013 budget before March 27.

The fear is that Washington leaders won’t reach a deal to address the budget cuts before March 27 and the full sequestration will go into effect. While the precise effects remain unclear, the White House predicts that federally funded research and federal aid to students will be directly affected. The White House predicts that the cuts will result in “1,000 fewer research grants and awards, impacting an estimated 12,000 scientists and students and curtailing critical scientific research.”

Kimberly Espy, Vice President for Research and Innovation and Dean of the Graduate School, launched a website Friday that offers up-to-date information on the impact of the sequester on UO programs. Speaking to the Register-Guard on February 28, Espy said that the UO is “already beginning to feel the effects.”

Espy was in Washington D.C. last week for meetings that included visits with Oregon’s Congressional representatives regarding the potential impact of the sequestration on the University of Oregon. On February 26, AAU President Hunter R. Rawlings testified in front of the Senate Budget Committee urging the government to avoid the sequestration, and in November, UO President Michael Gottfredson joined other Oregon University System presidents in signing a letter calling on Congress to avoid sequestration.