Survey: Feds fear a second shutdown

Mark Van Scyoc / DECEMBER 26, 2018: Sign at the visitor’s entrance of the US National Archives states it is closed due to the government shutdown. - Image

A closed sign at National Archives headquarters in Washington, D.C. in the early days of the recent shutdown. (Photo credit: Mark Van Scyoc /

Expired computer passwords. Transit benefits locked down. Also sewer odors in bathrooms and food rotting in vending machines.

These were just a few of the consequences awaiting returning feds and contractors after the 35-day shutdown, according to respondents to a survey of FCW subscribers, most of whom are federal employees working in IT.

Most of the 391 respondents said their agencies would be back to normal operations in relatively short order, with 52 percent saying it would take three weeks or less. However, 21 percent predicted it would be at least six week before their operations returned to pre-shutdown levels.

Specific complaints that point to the longer recovery periods include delayed program launches, overdue hiring and training and missed statutory deadlines. Many respondents said some contractor staff had quit during the shutdown.

How long will it take your agency to catch up and return to preshutdown operations?

Starting up, one respondent said, "is harder than it would seem because we have to work on the current reports while catching up on the missed ones. We really need double the normal staff for three months to recover from a 30-day shutdown."

Another reported that "missed funding decision meetings [caused] upcoming solicitations to be delayed by three months" adding that "people are totally demotivated."

More than 60 percent of respondents, meanwhile, said they expect another shutdown to occur when the current continuing resolution expires on Feb. 15. Slightly less than half said their agency was actively preparing for another funding lapse, with just 12 percent reporting their agency was not doing so (41 percent had no opinion or didn't know).

Just over 45 percent of respondents said their agency's shutdown plan was "adequate to support agency operations" during the December and January stoppage. Fifty-nine percent said they themselves were furloughed during the shutdown.

The poll was conducted on Jan. 29 and 30. FCW subscribers were contacted via email, and asked to respond if they worked at an agency affected by the shutdown. The online survey was limited to one response per user, but did not authenticate respondents' place of employment.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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