Dear IRIS Colleagues,
Some of you have been asking how the ongoing partial government shutdown is affecting IRIS and the facilities and services we provide to the IRIS community. IRIS, of course, is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation and NSF is one of the Federal agencies facing a lapse in funding during the shutdown. Since IRIS is an independent, non-profit corporation and not part of the government, IRIS employees can continue to work during a shutdown. However, during a shutdown IRIS cannot normally draw down funds from NSF to pay our operating expenses including staff salaries, subawardees, vendors and other bills (e.g. rent for our offices).
Prior to the shutdown on December 22, NSF allowed IRIS to withdraw additional funds to meet these expenses through about the middle of January. As it became apparent that the shutdown was going to last beyond mid-January, NSF made the unprecedented decision to allow IRIS, and a number of other operators of large NSF facilities, the opportunity to withdraw additional funds from our account at NSF. This additional draw, completed last week, will allow IRIS to continue to operate our “core” facilities (GSN, PASSCAL, Data Management Center and Education and Outreach activities) through about the end of February. Until the government reopens, however, IRIS will not make new commitments or begin new projects not required to sustain our “core” operations, and will curtail all non-essential travel.
We are thus fortunate to be able to pay our staff and sustain our operations to serve the IRIS community during this extended shutdown. However, 800,000 Federal employees and thousands of Federal contractors are not so lucky and our heart goes out to them and their families as they try to get through this very stressful and difficult time. For everyone’s sake, we hope that this government shutdown ends soon.
Bob Detrick, IRIS President