Apr
19

Budget cuts mean some galleries may close temporarily

budget-cuts

Secretary Clough explains the impact on the Smithsonian of the sequestration budget cuts. A hiring freeze is in place but there will be no furloughs at this time.

On Tuesday, I testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the impact of sequestration on the Smithsonian. As you have probably seen in the press coverage, I made the point that we have worked hard to maintain our commitment to the public, but that the effects of these cuts on the Smithsonian are not insignificant.

As a result of sequestration, our federal budget was reduced by $42 million and this must be absorbed in the six months remaining in the fiscal year. As much as we attempt to keep its effect on our core activities to a minimum, it is impossible that a cut of this size will have no impact at all.

We examined every option that would enable us to continue to carry out the Smithsonian’s mission and avoid furloughs. We attempted to take as much of this reduction as we could from central operations to lessen the impact on the museums and research and education units. We need to be flexible going forward as our understanding of what is necessary to implement these changes evolves.

One of the more notable effects on our museums and the public will be to occasionally close some galleries temporarily beginning in early May. We are working with the museums to organize this in a way to minimize impact on visitorship and meet safety and security requirements. We also have implemented a hiring freeze; delayed noncritical maintenance and revitalization projects; reduced the research, collections care and information technology pool funds; and reduced staff travel and training.

I know that all of these cuts have an impact on how the Smithsonian carries out its daily operations. We take these actions very seriously and will continue to do everything we can to ensure that the Smithsonian continues to function as seamlessly as possible. We are not alone in this exercise; all federally funded entities are facing these across-the-board spending cuts. We will be working over the coming months on a plan that will address the possibility that these cuts will become permanent. I am confident the Smithsonian can continue its positive momentum in the face of this challenge.

If you have specific questions or want to discuss issues surrounding sequestration, please contact Al Horvath, Under Secretary for Finance and Administration/Chief Financial Officer, at horvatha@si.edu.

I appreciate everything you are doing to ensure the Smithsonian continues to fulfill its mission.

Editor’s note: The Obama administration’s fiscal year 2014 budget request for the Smithsonian includes an increase of $59 million over 2012, including $25 million for STEM programs. This is part of the priority on science, technology, engineering and math education to meet future workforce needs. Read more about the proposed budget on Newsdesk.

 

May 1, 2013 UPDATE:  

Due to sequestration, a reduction in a contract for security that supplements the Smithsonian security force will affect the museums below. Sections of some exhibit areas will be closed, but no major exhibition will be closed.

The following three locations will be closed because of sequestration. The dates of the closures below are May 1 through Sept. 30.

• The Smithsonian Castle will close the Commons (a room displaying objects from around the Smithsonian)

•  National Museum of African Art will close a small room in part of a permanent exhibition, “African Mosaic” (will be posted on museum’s website)

•  Hirshhorn Museum will close some sections of the permanent collection galleries on the third floor (will be posted on museum’s website)

 

May 23, 2013 UPDATE:

 

Although as much of the budget reduction as possible was taken from central operations to lessen the impact on the museums and research and education units, we must remain flexible as the situation evolves. It is likely that at least some of these cuts to our budget will become permanent. There is also the possibility that we will face additional cuts to our budget beyond the $42 million reduction we have already taken. All of these cuts have an impact on how the Smithsonian carries out its daily operations, and we are working to find solutions that will enable us to continue to carry out our mission in the face of these challenges.

 

We have created a website for Smithsonian staff to share ideas, comments and suggestions for cost reductions with Institution leadership. I encourage everyone who has an idea—no matter how big or small—to send it to us. All responses will be kept confidential, and every idea submitted will be evaluated and considered.

 

Please submit your suggestions by close of business Friday, June 14. Ideas submitted through this website will become part of our discussion on different ways the Institution can best plan for the potential budget challenges we may face in the coming years; the more ideas we have, the better prepared we can be for whatever lies ahead.

 

If you have specific questions or want to discuss issues surrounding sequestration or the website, please contact Al Horvath, Under Secretary for Finance and Administration/Chief Financial Officer, at horvatha@si.edu.

 


Posted: 19 April 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…