As mentioned here, the next food fight in DC will be regarding the Debt Ceiling.  The Treasury Secretary is already taking extraordinary measures to continue to operate the US Government as we bump up against the current debt limit.

Many of you have heard the post-fiscal-cliff-deal-did-nothing-about-sequestration saber rattling of the impending Government Shutdown.  If you don’t already know, the first rule about Government Shutdown is- There is no Government Shutdown.

For those not fluent in OPM-ese, there are two types of furlough– The ‘Administrative Furlough‘ and the ‘Shutdown (aka Emergency) Furlough‘.

This discussion refers to the ‘Shutdown (Emergency) Furlough‘.

 As fallout from the two Clinton-Gingrich Government Shutdowns  of 1995-1996, most government agency heads got wise and put together boilerplate policies to enable their agencies to continue performing their core functions during the next inevitable government shutdown.  For example, during the 2011 threatened shutdown, the DoD issued this policy, which clearly states:

Operations and activities that are essential to safety, protection of human life, and protection of our national security, are ‘excepted’ from shutting down….Other excepted activities will include inpatient and essential outpatient care in DoD medical treatment facilities; emergency dental care; non-appropriated funds activities such as mess halls and child care activities; certain legal activities to support ongoing litigation and legal assistance for deployed DoD personnel; contracting and logistics operations that are in support of excepted activities; certain education and training activities to include the DoD education activity schools; and financial management activities necessary to ensure the control and accountability of funds. 

Furthermore:

…Military personnel are not subject to furlough and will report for duty as normal during the shutdown. Reserve component personnel should refer to the DoD Contingency Guidance document and to their chain of command for more specific information.

…Civilian personnel deemed to be performing excepted activities will continue to work during the period of a shutdown. 

Can you think of any DoD function left out here?  I can’t think of too many off-hand.  I’m singling-out DoD here because I’m an employee and pay the most attention to its Secretary’s instructions, but there are similar policies in place for State, Treasury, Justice, etc departments.

So for all the squawking and hype, my best read is that lawmakers have become wise that a  government ‘shutdown’ is a misnomer- It doesn’t really shut anything down and does not save the government a significant amount of $$.  Therefore, I believe an ‘Administrative Furlough’ is the more likely scenario in the upcoming Feb-Mar 2013 debt ceiling/sequestration showdown.

For further reading on a possible ‘Shutdown Furlough’, here’s a recent Washington Post primer on the guidance for the last proposed government shutdown.

The Next GubMints post will deal with the issue of the ‘Administrative Furlough’… standby!

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2 thoughts on “Fiscal Cliff Fight Club – Government Shutdown Edition

  1. Pingback: Fiscal Cliff Fight Club - Administrative Furlough Edition | GubMints

  2. Pingback: Furloughs Delayed, Possibly Reduced by Continuing Resolution | GubMints

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