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Half of DOD Civilians Would get Furloughed in a Shutdown, Plans Show

September 25, 2023

Eric Katz

Defense One

By Eric Katz, Septemver 22, 2023 / Defense One

With lawmakers struggling to come up with a plan to fund the government past Sept. 30, agencies are dusting off their shutdown plans. 

In conjunction with the Office of Management and Budget, every agency in government maintains a contingency plan for a lapse in appropriations. That includes exactly which work it will continue to conduct despite not receiving annual funding, as well as which employees it will require to continue working to carry it out. 

The White House, through OMB, maintains some latitude in the exact consequences of a shutdown. Federal employees funded through mechanisms other than annual appropriations, as well as those necessary to protect life and property, are considered either “exempted” or “excepted” and work throughout shutdowns on only the promise of backpay. The rest of employees are sent home on furlough without pay, though, following the record-setting 35-day shutdown in 2018 and 2019, those workers are now also guaranteed backpay. Different administrations have taken varying approaches in determining who gets furloughed and who works, with the Trump administration taking an unusually aggressive approach to keeping staff at work.

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