How will sequestration affect the Smithsonian?

As you are likely aware, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 delayed until March 1, 2013, the across-the-board spending cuts known as “sequestration” that face all Federal agencies. I realize that you may have questions regarding the impact of a potential sequestration for the Smithsonian, and I would like to take a moment to share what we know at this point.

First and foremost, we are hopeful that the Administration and Congress will reach agreement on a balanced deficit reduction plan that avoids such cuts.

Sequestration is an across-the-board reduction in Federal budgetary resources for all accounts within the Smithsonian. If it occurs, sequestration will reduce our Federal budgetary resources for the remainder of the fiscal year (which runs through September 30, 2013) and the consequences will not be insignificant. We have planned for the possibility of these cuts and will implement them over time in such a way as to give us as much time as possible to adjust to the impact. Accordingly, this situation is different from other scenarios we have encountered in recent years, such as threats of government shutdown due to a lapse in appropriations. Please note that sequestration only impacts our Federal appropriation. It is unclear how a sequester of Federal funds may affect our Trust activities, but we will certainly try to minimize any impact.

For these reasons, I do not expect our day-to-day operations to change dramatically on or immediately after March 1 should sequestration occur. We have worked closely with unit leadership to make plans on how to reduce spending should we have to operate under reduced funding levels for an extended period of time. At this time, we do not foresee implementing furloughs to reach our reduced funding level in the current fiscal year, and would only do so if absolutely necessary. Let me assure you that we will carefully examine all options to reduce costs taking into consideration our obligation to execute our core mission.

If you have specific questions or wish to discuss issues surrounding the potential sequestration, I encourage you to contact Albert Horvath, Under Secretary for Finance & Administration/Chief Financial Officer at horvatha@si.edu. We will do our best to provide clear information about the status of events as they unfold.

Finally, let me again express my gratitude for your continued hard work and dedication to the vital mission of the Smithsonian. Your contributions touch people’s lives in many significant ways, and I want you to know how deeply appreciative I am for all that you do.

Read more at the Washington Post: How will the sequester impact the National Zoo?

Posted: 26 February 2013
About the Author:

Wayne Clough is the 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Since beginning his tenure in July 2008, Secretary Clough has overseen several major openings at the Smithsonian, including the Sant Ocean Hall at the Museum of Natural History and the reopening of the American History Museum. He has initiated long-range planning for the Institution that will define the Smithsonian’s focus for the future. More about Secretary Clough...