YOU better find something else to do next week!
cannot reach an agreement on FY2011 funding by 12:01 a.m. on April 9, Federal
departments and agencies will be required to execute contingency plans
for a lapse in appropriations. In laymen terms, there will be a
"shutdown" or "furlough" (or as the guys here like to say, "National Lampoon's Federal Vacation!")
Should the government shut down, what does it mean for federal
employees? OhMyGov sorts through the what if's and unknowns to find some answers.
Who is affected by the shutdown?
Only federal employees whose jobs are "necessary to protect life and property" and are needed to continue an
"orderly shutdown of emergency operations" are essential.That includes
most national intelligence
staff, military personnel, air traffic controllers, law enforcement,
emergency and disaster personnel, the Transportation Security
Administration, Coast Guard and similar staff. Legislation has been
introduced to continue pay for military during a shutdown. It is unclear
if that legislation will pass before Friday's deadline. Federal
employees who are paid a salary funded by appropriations monies will not
be able to work and will have to take a furlough. During a furlough
employees will not be allowed to go to work or to work from home. Each
federal agency has plans to place to continue essential operations and
services, but non-essential employees will have a force furlough -- that is, an "unpaid vacation." What's more, federal workers cannot take leave during a
shutdown. The government has plans in place to continue health and life
insurance during the shutdown for up to 365 days and 12 months.
Essential staff and members of congress will be paid for working during a
shutdown, because much like New York City, Washington rarely sleeps or
really shuts down, but this pay will be applied
retroactively only after Congress passes and the President signs a new
appropriations bill or continuing resolution.
I'm being furloughed, will I get paid?
The short answer is maybe.
Congress will asses whether "non-essential" employees will receive pay
for the furlough time period. In the past when the government has
shut down, employees forced to take furloughs have been paid
retroactively. For some employees, unemployment benefits maybe available
if the furlough is for an extended period of time. Employees should
contact their state or District of Columbia unemployment offices for
Has this happened before?
There have been nine
government shutdowns between 1981 to 1995, lasting three days each.
There were also six government shutdowns between 1977 and 1980, lasting
from eight to 17 days. The longest government shutdown was in 1995 and
1996, during President Clinton's administration, lasting for 21
What's the point of a shutdown?
It can be argued that there
isn't a point. A government shutdown would be a result of the House,
Senate and President not being able to compromise on the appropriations
budget. Not having appropriated the necessary dollars to fund the government, the federal bureaucracy would be forced to suspend operations. The debate that has pushed us to the precipice of a shutdown is largely about the government spending too much money, but the shutdown itself will not save money. In fact, there is potential for major losses in an already weakened
economy. In 1995 the six-day shutdown cost taxpayers nearly $800
million, including $400
million to furloughed federal employees who were paid but did not
report to work, and another $400 million in lost revenue in the four days
that the IRS enforcement divisions were closed.
Wait, the IRS enforcement divisions could close? Will the Taxman still cometh?
year's taxes are due April 18. They will still be due regardless. Electronic filers will receive refunds via direct deposit. Paper filers will not receive refund checks until the budget impasse ends, but our donations to Uncle Sam will still be processed. And don't think you can use the excuse that the Post Office was closed. The U.S. Postal Service will continue operating. "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these
couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,"
not even a government shutdown! The fact remains, some things just
can't be avoided: death, taxes, junk mail, and government bickering.
The Office of Personnel Management has published guidance and information for federal employees on the potential furlough.
Follow @ohmygov and @bureaupat on Twitter for important updates.