April 6, 2011

OPM: Government Shutdown Threat

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued a statement addressing what a government shutdown would mean for federal employees should lawmakers fail to reach a budget agreement ahead of a Friday deadline.

"The President has made it clear that he does not want a government shutdown, and the Administration is willing and ready to work day and night to find a solution that all sides can agree with," the statement said. "That said, given the realities of the calendar, prudent management requires we plan for an orderly shutdown should the negotiations not be completed by the end of the current continuing resolution."

OPM explains that if a shutdown does occur, departments and agencies on the federal level would be required to comply with contingency plans distinguishing operations that must be stopped from those which would be allowed to continue.

A government shutdown occurs when a government discontinues providing services that are not considered "essential." Typically, essential services include police, fire fighting, armed forces, utilities and corrections. Interestingly, Congress and the President are exempt from the furlough and continue to receive compensation despite the fact that other services are suspended.

In the last shutdown, when the government closed down some functions for 21 days at the end of 1995, workers were paid retroactively for the period. The Office of Personnel Management wrote in a Tuesday guidance that federal employees asked to work will receive pay when Congress passes a new continuing resolution and the government reopens.

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