Agencies have to prep their staff and their systems as the funding deadline approaches.
For the first time since 2015, some agencies updated the shutdown guidance plans that outline which employees and systems continue to work if the government shuts down.
Congress has until Friday to work out a short-term deal. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J. filed a continuing resolution this weekend that could stave off a total shutdown until Dec. 22 but it remains to be seen whether that will receive bipartisan support.
In the meantime, agencies must get ready to close. According to a 2013 Office of Management and Budget memo, federal agencies must maintain their IT systems and websites if they must be up to “avoid significant damage to the execution of authorized or excepted activities” and they must put in just enough effort to “maintain functionality and ensure the security and integrity of the system during the period of the lapse.”
The General Services Administration, NASA and the Housing and Urban Development Department and several smaller agencies updated their shutdown guidance Monday.
GSA determined several of its offices—including the Office of GSA IT—are funded through working capital funds, which means they can continue working if appropriated funds lapse. The agency’s Technology Transformation Services also would be able to continue activities supported by working capital funds, but its Office of Products and Programs—which oversees the Federal Risk Authorization Management Program, cloud.gov and other programs—would be subject to a shutdown furlough. Minimal personnel would be excepted to keep USA.gov and national call centers running.
GSA’s exempted personnel include the associate administrator, the chief acquisition officer, and the minimum personnel required for supporting contracting activities and acquisition itself.
NASA’s guidance states it would continue to support the International Space Station to ensure the astronauts get any transportation or resupply they may need. The agency also would continue to support any operational satellite missions, though work would stop on any yet to be launched missions. Citizens would not have access to NASA Television nor the agency’s website, according to the plans.
At the Housing and Urban Development Department, some activities within the Office of the CIO would continue. For example, it would maintain access to standard HUD applications, help desk operations for other employees, and various other systems related to accounting and insurance. The deputy CIO would ensure that all those systems required for excepted activities were updated before the shutdown.
In past shutdowns, some federal websites were affected, such as We the People and the Agriculture Department’s website, which were both down for the 2013 shutdown. Other agencies keep websites and databases accessible but don’t update the information during shutdowns.