NEH Chairman Jim Leach today issued the following statement about the implications of sequestration on the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
“On Friday, March 1, nearly all federal agencies will have a portion of their funds reduced via a mechanism known as sequestration. By background, this situation arises from the terms of prior legislation that required Congress and the White House to agree on a balanced deficit reduction plan of a given magnitude. If an agreement could not be reached, an automatic, across-the-board reduction of funds —sequestration— was required to be implemented during this fiscal year. The President was expected to issue the sequestration order by January 2, 2013, but over the New Year’s holiday, Congress approved and the President signed legislation that postponed the automatic reductions until March 1.
Preliminary estimates by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) indicate that sequestration will require a 5 percent reduction in funding for NEH during this fiscal year, which commenced last October 1 and ends this September 30th. Concerned for the prospect of sequestration, NEH has put in place since last fall constraints on program commitments and administrative costs. Further uncertainty, however, exists with the looming mid-year budget negotiations.
The current continuing resolution that all federal departments and agencies have been operating under expires March 27, at which time Congress will need to approve another time-limited continuing resolution or provide funding through an appropriation for the remainder of the fiscal year.
With sequestration and the possibility of other funding reductions, NEH must assume a need to continue to constrain our use of program funds. The agency will be obligated to make fewer new awards at lower award amounts. We may also have to delay the timing of future grant commitments until overall federal budgeting decisions are clarified in whatever approach is adopted when the current continuing resolution elapses March 27. All prior grant acceptances and all upcoming application deadlines, however, will stand.
We regret this impact on the agency’s funding flexibility. Nonetheless, our goal remains to protect to the maximum extent possible NEH’s core mandate to spur research in history, literature, philosophy and related disciplines and disseminate to the public the knowledge and perspective that humanities studies provide.”