Workforce

Lawmakers detail $4 billion in shutdown costs

Mark Van Scyoc / Shutterstock.com 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 Senate report puts the price tag on 52 days of government shutdowns over the past five years at $4 billion, including $3.7 billion in back pay to furloughed or unpaid federal workers and $338 million in associated costs.

The report from the bipartisan staff of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee listed some of those associated costs as administrative work, lost revenue and reopening costs. Additionally, the report detailed social costs of shutdowns such as the lack of financial fraud enforcement, damage to closed or unattended national parks and delays in implementing recalls of dangerous consumer products. More substantially, the report noted estimates from the Congressional Budget Office that shutdowns take a toll on the national economy.

"Federal government shutdowns don't save money, they actually cost taxpayers billions of dollars," said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the chairman of the subcommittee that handled the report.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the subcommittee ranking member, said that government shutdowns are "avoidable failures of governance that hemorrhage taxpayer dollars, put our nation's federal agencies in organizational and financial disarray and pose risks to our national security. The impacts can be felt in every corner of our country, in red states and blue states alike."

The report said lost productivity hours totaled more than 56,000 years of work time and back wages paid totaled more than $3.66 billion.

The report recommended Congress pass legislation to institute automatic continuing resolutions in the event of a lapse in appropriations -- essentially a ban on shutdowns.

Portman has offered bills in the past designed to do just that -- put in place a stopgap funding bill in the event that Congress and the White House can't agree on a funding package before the start of a new fiscal year or the expiration of a short-term continuing resolution.

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.


Featured

  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.