Who Still Works When the Government Shuts Down?

Government Shuts Down Top negotiators are reportedly closer to cutting a deal that would keep the government running.

But federal agency chiefs have prepared for the worst. Among them is Martha Johnson, administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration, which provides workspace to over one million government employees and employs 12,700 employees to manage the government's assets and acquisition activities.

"GSA will continue to provide workspace, products and services ordered before the funding lapse as long as there is a continuing need," Johnson said in a directive to employees posted on GSA's website.

Johnson reiterated the types of activities that the government is still authorized to provide and that federal employees would still have to perform in the event of a shutdown. The list includes:

1. Providing medical care of inpatients and emergency outpatient care

2. Ensuring continued public health and safety, including safe use of food, drugs, and hazardous materials

3. Continuing air traffic control and other transportation safety functions and protecting transportation property

4. Continuing border and coastal protection and surveillance

5. Protecting Federal lands, buildings, waterways, equipment, and other U.S. property

6. Caring for prisoners and other persons in U.S. custody

7. Pursuing law enforcement and criminal investigations

8. Providing emergency and disaster assistance

9. Preserving the essential elements of the U.S. money and banking system, including Treasury borrowing and tax collection activities

10. Ensuring production of power and maintaining the power distribution system

11. Protecting research property

Once appropriations are no longer available, however, it is illegal for non-excepted employees to do regular work, including checking their official e-mail or accessing information on government computer networks.

Services for the public aren't the only activities that would be impacted. Contractors doing work for the government would also feel the pinch if the government shuts down.

"Goods and services may not be purchased under lapsed appropriations except when required to support excepted activities or when purchased with funds that are exempt from a lapse in appropriations," according to Johnson. Moreover, she said, "GSA will not make payments to contractors for products and services not obligated before the funding lapse."


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