Shutdown’s long-range fallout

Nothing is easy (as in simple) in government. But you knew that.

Take the most recent government shutdown.


Although it lasted only about 69 hours (depending on who is counting), making it one of the shortest-ever shutdowns, some of its effects may be with us forever. That may be a gross exaggeration. Maybe 10 or 12 years.

The shutdown of 2018 has already created or revived issues that will keep rule-readers, bean-counters and the courts busy for years. Maybe raising some new questions and issues. Some of you (us) could well be retired by the time that problems stemming from the Saturday-Sunday-Monday shutdown created.

Following the penultimate (always wanted to use that word) 16-day shutdown of 2013, everybody got paid. Eventually. Workers who didn’t work got paid. So did those whose jobs required them to work. Some were paid late, but they did get paid. During the 2013 exercise in futility roughly 800,000 of the government’s 2.1 million non-postal workers were told not to work. But all got paid.

The shutdown is not to be confused with the “furloughs” of 2013, which were the result of sequestration policies issued by the White House. During the furloughs, tens of thousands of workers were told to stay home. As in not work. This is not to be confused with the “furloughs” of 2013 in which tens of thousands of workers were ordered to stay home. As in not work. The furloughs were typically one day per week meaning that employees idled by sequestration lost 20 percent of their salaries for that period.

Falling between the bureaucratic/legalistic cracks were a number of emergency workers (law enforcement, etc.) and nonappropriated fund employees for financial “damages” they suffered during the 2013 shutdown. More than 200,000 fall into that category but a recent ruling by a U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge covers about 25,000 who signed on to a lawsuit several years ago. It alleged, and the judge agreed, that because of the timing of the shutdown the 25,000 workers who joined the lawsuit are due compensation ($7.25 per hour for each hour they worked between Oct. 1 and Oct. 5, 2013) because the government, in paying them late, had violated a 1938 (that’s right) federal wage law. Government Executive say this works out about $290 per employees who worked 8-hour days “plus any overtime they are due. If employees worked the first two days of that week — Sept. 29 ( a Sunday) and Sept. 30,” GE said, “they would have received pay on a normal schedule, which would affect their payout.”

If you get it, as in understand the ruling, you may want to seek professional help. Or wait a few years until your day in court.

Meantime, what’s your shutdown story?

Lenore Calabrese, a retiree from Customs and Border Protection, responding to Monday’s column  said:

“Seriously, government shutdowns have got to be the stupidest way to run a country. They accomplish little and cost much — all for the purpose of congressional grandstanding. We should remember that, in bringing the budget to perpetual continuing resolutions and even more sever shutdown, Congress is proving that they are incapable of doing the job they were put into office to accomplish.

“I’m no longer a fed, having retired in September. Many think that means I’m no longer affected. Hah!! I’m still being paid roughly 70 percent of my estimated pension. It can’t get adjudicated without folks in the office of accomplish that!”

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

When he was 14, Thomas Edison saved 3-year-old Jimmie MacKenzie from a runaway boxcar.

Source: Neatorama