Workforce Wonk

By Alyah Khan

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Feds in the dark about government shutdown

It turns out that it’s not just the public and Capitol Hill lawmakers that aren’t privy to the details of a government shutdown. Many federal employees say they also haven’t been told what would happen if Congress fails to approve funding for federal agencies beyond April 8.

“So whatever happened to all that transparency [President Barack] Obama promised us?” one reader asked in response to a previous Workforce Wonk post about administration officials directing agencies to stay quiet about their shutdown plans. “I can’t even find out if I’m considered an excepted or nonexcepted employee, something that is crucial to know if a shutdown happens.”

Another reader, Angel, shared a similar experience: “I haven’t been told anything. I’ve asked questions and nobody is saying what the employees are to do in my agency. Should I show up, should I call in to see if I am to work or should I stay home?”

The measure currently funding the government expires on Friday and the future of a longer term fiscal 2011 appropriations bill remains largely uncertain as political leaders continue to debate the level of spending cuts to be included in the bill.

Arguments over this year’s budget and the series of short-term continuing resolutions have strained agencies and left many federal managers frustrated.

“As a federal manager, it is so unfair not to be able to tell my employees whether they are on the ‘will work’ or ‘will not work’ list,” a reader said about the looming shutdown. “These folks have families and financial commitments and not to be able to tell them if they will be working or not is just wrong!”

Other readers posed practical questions about the possible shutdown in their comments that are likely troubling many in the federal sector.  One such reader asked, “If I show up for work on Monday morning and then [I’m] told to go home by management, do I get paid for the time I’m in the office?”

Still, some readers said they think it makes sense for the administration to keep shutdown plans under wraps. “Otherwise the hacks in Congress will use it to judge how their goal of shutting down the government is going,” a reader said.

While it’s hard to predict the outcome of budget talks this week, it seems only fair to give federal employees more information about how a potential shutdown would impact their lives.

Have you been told what would happen at your agency if the government shuts down? Do you have questions or concerns about a possible shutdown that aren’t being addressed?

Posted by Alyah Khan on Apr 04, 2011 at 12:20 PM


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