Costs to Prepare for A #GovernmentShutdown

Today, I was amazed, flabbergasted, surprised, and amused when in a press conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  apologized to House Speaker John Boehner for hurting his feelings. He said Boehner said that’s the reason we have a government shutdown.

This afternoon, shots fired at the Capitol.  Is this frustration from a disgruntled federal employee?  Or someone directly or indirectly impacted from the shutdown of government services.  In the meantime, we wait with hopes that no one was injured or killed.  

We also watch as the Congress debates and we see no Progress in sight.  The richest nation in the world doesn’t have an approved budget to pay 800,000 workers or provide services to those in need.  Each week the government is closed the economy directly loses 1billion dollars that would go toward paying these employees.  Some economists estimate that can translate upwards of 10 times  when businesses are impacted. 

Today, DC streets are empty, highways from the suburbs during rush hour are like Sunday morning.   But what was the cost associated in the days leading up to October 1, 2013.  On that day, federal employees reported for four hours of work to change voicemail messages, lock up files and shutdown computers and printers. 

One federal employee working for an agency directly overseeing government agencies shutdown activities leading up to the shutdown shared some of the work they were involved in during the weeks leading up to the shutdown. 

They attended:

  • Weekly meetings with Politicals and General Counsel preparing for government-wide calls with agencies and various Councils (CFO, CAO, CIO, CHCOC, PMC), labor unions, and state government offices.  
  • Some Councils required separate calls (for various reasons– e.g., to review IT-specific policies with agency CIO shops, etc.) which required scheduling pre-meetings and meetings to discuss guidance, identify any anomalies prior to the call (researching regulations and policies for clarification), responding to emails, calls from leadership prior to the calls– then the gov-wide conference calls themselves.

There was daily work with teams across the agency to prepare and review draft guidance and FAQs for agency – budget, procurement, human resources, and IT shops.

  • Updating the agency’s internal guidance in draft, posting online.
  • Reviewing all agency contingency plans (before they were allowed to post on their intra/internets). Coordinating the primary agency conference calls and town hall with the Director.

When adding up the number of meetings, conference calls (some operator assisted — no telling how much that contract costs), government-wide calls with up to 200 Feds, plus all the salaries (of SES, political appointees, GS employees, etc.), staff staying up late to post shutdown guidance (and I’m talking past midnight), not to mention our daily work which we had to set aside, the costs are high.

So as the days led up to the #GovernmentShutdown it is hard to assess the cost associated with the shutdown.

  • We would have look at ongoing projects that were tabled and pushed aside.
  • The cost of shutting these projects down, in some cases flying people home.
  • And the cost of getting them going again and flying people back to the places they were.

We may never know the exact cost to shut the government down. We do know that it added work, hours and more importantly did nothing to advance the mission of our government agencies.

Congress continues debating the trivial matters of getting government restarted based on ideological differences.

So Now We Wait…..

2 thoughts on “Costs to Prepare for A #GovernmentShutdown

  1. You know the Government does not make any sense both parties are sick. How Embrassing. If you ask me neither party can run the shutdown either. Forget what the 27th amendment they need to feel what it is like to have their livelyhood shaken up. They are just determined that this President with go out with a bad rep.


  2. Okay so we all know from polling (every man, woman, child and invertebrate has been polled it seems) that the public broadly supports the Dems on the gov’t shut down / healthcare circus. And we kinda know that they support the GOP on the debt ceiling issue if they manage to frame the argument as being about “fiscal responsibility” and spending etc.

    So theoretically the first battle should have been settled in the Dems favour and the second one in the GOP’s favour. The war playing out in a 1 – 1 draw.

    Theoretically. Because an interesting thing may very well happen on the way to next month’s circus.

    The budget debacle (in which polling shows the Dems should win the battle for popular opinion) is STILL not resolved and the debt ceiling fight is about to start in earnest.

    Thus it seems that the two battles will now become one MEGA battle (revolving around both issues) in which the winner takes all.

    This could be VERY interesting. Mainly because just as the public supports the Dems on the budget / shut down issue, they broadly support the GOP on the debt ceiling issue. So if the two fights turn into one BIG fight, who will the public end up supporting?

    This battle is turning into a winner-takes-all Super Bowl of political warfare.

    Boehner has made it clear that he wanted to avoid the shut down confrontation (which he knew was a loser in terms of public opinion) in order to save his ammo for the debt ceiling crisis, which is he thinks he can win. And he may kinda sorta get what he wants now as the shut down / ACA fight carries on so long that it merges with the Debt Ceiling fight.

    So who will win this showdown?

    Will the Dem’s be able to make this mega-confrontation all about the gov’t shut down & ACA stuff and win, or will the GOP manage to grab the narrative and make the fight all about the debt ceiling / supposed “fiscal responsibility” and win this gloves-off political cage fight?

    With mid-term elections just round the corner,the stakes couldn’t be higher. The team that wins this mega-fight will triumph in the mid-term elections, and the one that loses this stand-off loses in the mid-terms. Control of the House and Senate will be probably be decided this month.



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