Research grant reductions due to sequestration

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


TO:             Deans, Directors, Departmental Executive Officers, Investigators

FROM:        Daniel Reed, Vice President for Research and Economic Development

RE:             Research grant reductions due to Federal budget sequestration

DATE:        February 27, 2013

While it remains unclear whether the federal budget sequestration will take effect on March 1, we must begin planning for that probability.  This includes considering the potential impact on existing research grants and contracts, as well as appropriate actions should federal funding be reduced.

Decisions regarding federal budget cuts applied to individual grants and contracts will be at the discretion of each Principal Investigator, consistent with the terms of the granting agency and University policy. However, it is important that we all consider those decisions and our organizational priorities within a broader context.

In any scenario that includes reduced federal funding for research, we must be strategic and thoughtful in managing our resources. Most importantly, we must protect our ability to conduct high quality research and scholarship as a comprehensive research institution. There is simply no substitute for excellence in scholarship, research and creative discovery. Thus, I encourage you to consider all decisions in that context, recognizing that short-term decisions can have long-term consequences.

We must also be ready to establish priorities and be conscious not to act in a way that adversely affects other facets of the University’s mission. These include the quality of the educational experience for our students, the economic well-being of the state, and the quality of health care provided to the citizens of Iowa.  We are an interconnected family, and each of our actions affects others in the university community.

With these considerations in mind, I recommend the following as guidelines in addressing any immediate budget reductions caused by sequestration:

  • Review grants and contracts to identify flexibility and possible savings in a manner that is consistent with the applicable terms and conditions, while maintaining the quality of the research to the maximum extent possible.  Examine non-federal discretionary pools of funding to shift expenses in the short term to help offset reductions where possible. 
  • Protect people and talent wherever possible, remembering it is crucial to continue to support the development of our graduate students. Where personnel costs must be reduced, all University policies must be honored and established procedures maintained.  Information about planning for a reduction in force is available on the University Human Resources website:
  • If you are a Principal Investigator, consult and work closely with your Dean and Departmental Executive Officer. They can help provide strategic context and guidance on budgetary issues.

Finally, a number of University resources are available to assist you, including collegiate budget officers and Human Resources senior leaders, the Offices of Sponsored Programs, Grant Accounting and University Human Resources.   My office will continue to provide information as it is received and post regular updates to

Sequestration poses challenges for all of us. Yet those same challenges also bring opportunities to think creatively and collaboratively about the future.  Working together, we will not only weather the storm, we will emerge with new ideas and initiatives that position us for even greater success in the future.