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Government Shutdown Impacting Colorado's Federal Labs


Thousands of Colorado employees have been furloughed due to the government shutdown. Included in that number are more than 3,600 federal laboratory workers in Boulder County.

Meg Collins, managing director of Colorado Leveraging Assets for Better Science (CO-LABS), told the Boulder County Business Report that closing federal labs delays critical research.

"I think it's disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful that we've gotten to this point," Collins said about the federal government shutdown. "The longer it goes, the more significant the impact on individuals, and delaying critical research that the labs are involved in."

This isn’t the first time that a squeeze on federal funding has impacted Colorado research facilities. Earlier this year, university officials were trying to prepare for possible grant cutbacks because of the budget cuts known as sequestration.

In 2011, uncertainty over federal budget cuts caused plenty of anxiety-related headaches for administrators at Colorado’s 24 federal labs.

Federal research labs in Boulder County have generated between $740 million and $1.5 billion in economic impact for the region annually during the last two fiscal years. One of those laboratories, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is home to several Nobel Prize-winning physicists.

NIST is among the facilities currently affected by the shutdown, along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). 

Lawmakers in Washington warn that the shutdown could last for weeks.

As the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.
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