Government Shutdown Over, But Entomological Impact May Linger
Lasting 35 days, the partial shutdown of U.S. federal government operations at the beginning of 2019 caused severe interruptions to insect science in the United States. The harm extended from federal government entomologists directly impacted to the American public at large who are served in myriad ways by the sustained advancement of entomology.
ESA is pleased that leaders in Washington, DC, reached an agreement Friday to re-open the government and return to normal operations, and the Society urges the President and Congress to negotiate policy matters in the future without bringing vital government work to a standstill. As noted in ESA’s statement on the eve of the shutdown, “An efficient and fully operational government means science can continue to progress and can continue to benefit the American people.”
However, for much of the entomological work affected by the shutdown, those 35 days will be difficult, if impossible, to make up. On Friday, ESA advocacy partner Lewis-Burke Associates issued a new report with analysis of the potential lasting impacts of the shutdown, noting “While it is uncertain at this time how the negotiations will proceed, given the shutdown’s unprecedented length, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to how federal agencies will recover from this significant disruption and the residual effects on U.S. research and higher education.”
Meanwhile, entomologists and other scientists shared their views on these impacts both via a hashtag, #ShutdownBugsMe, on Twitter and in media reports throughout the course of the shutdown. Below are some highlights from these stories; ESA hopes they may serve as a reminder about the peril behind the prospect of any future government shutdown.
"Because of the delay, we cannot begin this process to determine the risk this poses to cattle and how we might manage this risk. Delays will handicap our understanding of the disease dynamic and control strategies for the coming year." #ShutdownBugsMe https://t.co/lfEFrOcRpy
— Entomological Society of America (@EntsocAmerica) January 14, 2019
I was optimistic that I would get to start my bumblebee postdoc this week, but the government shutdown continues. Financially, the gap in paychecks will soon be a problem too, especially since saving during grad school is, um, real tough. #ShutdownBugsMe #ShutdownStories
— Allison Camp (@aquatic_ecotox) January 10, 2019
We would MUCH rather be collaborating with our federal research colleagues than talking to journalists about why we can’t. But thanks to @sciencemagazine for shining a light on the many disruptions, including our small part of this mess: https://t.co/uQQ3465ED7 #ShutdownBugsMe pic.twitter.com/e45L0gWvsy
— Rufus Isaacs (@msuberrybugs) January 8, 2019
— Rebecca Clark, Ph.D. (@TheAntlady) January 8, 2019
I know this may seem like small potatoes to many, but the indefinite closure of our National Museum of Natural History- a giant repository of knowledge about what species are and where they live- is a significant impediment to scientific progress. #ShutdownBugsMe
— Alex Wild (@Myrmecos) January 8, 2019
— Dr. Rebecca Schmidt (@Phytoseiid) January 8, 2019
I'm trying to plan some field work this month and I have no idea if I'll be able to access my sites. #ShutdownBugsMe
— Derek Hennen (@derekhennen) January 8, 2019
Originally, this was a handy infographic from @EntsocAmerica on what entomologists do for our society. Currently, it's a infographic roughly listing critical jobs federal entomologists either can no longer do or are doing for no pay. https://t.co/cTNUwUVXL4 #ShutdownBugsMe pic.twitter.com/cCzwsmgS36
— Brian Lovett (@lovettbr) January 7, 2019
Update, January 30, 2019: Nature article from January 29 added.