Every day that the federal government is shut down costs Oregon State University $600,000 in lost research funding, OSU officials say.

Since the shutdown began Tuesday, “we’ve already spent $2.4 million on being idled,” Rick Spinrad, OSU’s vice-president for research, said Friday.

OSU is engaged in government-funded research involving everything from forestry to fisheries health, climate change and homeland security.

Last year, the university received $154 million from the federal government for research.

“We get funding from probably about a dozen agencies and bureaus; every one of them is inactive (now). We have 1,000 research projects, and two-thirds of them are federally funded.”

For example, the 40 federally funded researchers at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport are shut out of their offices and laboratories. The facility itself is shuttered until the shutdown is resolved.

“The parking lot looks like a ghost town,” Spinrad said.

Although the employees who feed and care for animals involved in the research at the Science Center are considered “crucial,” and remain on the job, OSU researchers cannot address questions to their federal partners because those partners have been furloughed.

“There’s a big difference between keeping those animals alive and being able to continue the research, such as regular monitoring,” he said. “It’s a little bit like your doctor being out of the office, but saying you can still come in and get weighed and leave a blood sample — but nobody will analyze it.”

What’s more, Spinrad said, there is no certainty that research partners will be compensated for the down time once the government resumes operation.

Not until late Friday did government officials in Washington D.C. give any indication that research partners, furloughed employees and others impacted by the shutdown would be retroactively compensated.

Websites that were supposed to keep research partners updated were not working because of the shutdown, a Catch-22 situation.

“That’s government thinking,” Spinrad said.

Misinformation is rampant.

For example, he said one false report indicated that the nation’s 20 or so federally funded NOAA research ships all would be called back to port.

However, that wasn’t true. OSU scientists and their federal partners aboard the research vessel Oceanus still are out at sea, engaged in studies that include the ocean’s biological productivity and how oceans impact weather.

The vessel’s home port is Newport, and the research is funded through the National Science Foundation.

In Corvallis, the Environmental Protection Agency office, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Geological Survey employees all are among major research partners who are idled by the shutdown.

That impacts a major climate change research program with the USGS.

How much will the shutdown damage research projects? That depends on when leaders in Washington D.C. can resolve the matter, Sprinrad said.

Theresa Novak is the city editor and opinion page editor at the Corvallis Gazette-Times. She can be reached at theresa.novak@lee.net or 541-758-9527.

(4) comments

chas holman
chas holman

Completely and utterly tragic.

Speaker Bohener, at least put up a clean CR to the floor so your OWN party can vote on it. My goodness. This is beyond criminal to the American people at this point.

Stop the d@mn games Sam I Am..


The terms "essential" and "non-essential" describing Federal employees have been batted around in the press this week without a clear understanding of the terminology. "Essential" employees are employees whose responsibility it is to PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY, while non-essential employees are everyone else.

Each Agency has identified a skeleton crew to ensure that animals are fed, plants are watered and buildings are secure (essential responsibilities), but no other activities are occurring at any of the Federal facilities here at OSU or throughout the country.

It should also be noted that ALL employees (non-essential AND essential) are not being paid....

And yes, this is completely and utterly tragic.


Good thing the 50 or so staff in the Research Office are still getting paid.


Wow $ 600,000? very expensive, hopefully the result can be more than that amount. hehe

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