Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Government shutdowns getting more lengthy, damaging, history shows

September 21, 2023

Molly Weisner

Military Times

Getty Images


By Molly Weisner, Military Times / September 21, 2023

Americans, federal employees and politicians know budget shutdowns to be a near annual fixture of governance.

The threat of one, at least, has become standard operating procedure, and agencies by now are used to expending more effort than they’d like planning for a lapse in appropriations, whether it happens or not. Data from 2013 shows at least $2 billion worth of work-hours were lost during a two-week shutdown.

To prepare for what is often an up-to-the minute change, agencies are expected by the White House to have shutdown contingency plans at the ready that are updated regularly, not just when a funding gap seems imminent. Even short-term continuing resolutions require agencies to divert attention from their normal business and have a predetermination of what, and who, is affected.