Before we start let me state this write up is pretty long since almost every phase of the government has been affected by the shutdown. Let me also state that it’s time for our elected officials from both sides of the aisle to start acting like adults and get this thing resolved. To the rest of the world, we look like idiots.
The United States Federal Government shutdown is now entering its eleventh day and approximately 800,000 people have been furloughed, laid off or switched to part time work. I thought it might be interesting to see where those numbers come from. The following is a list government agencies and what impact the shutdown has had on them, and if you’re a United States citizen, possibly you.
American Battle Monuments Commission
The commission is charged with maintaining monument and cemeteries for Americans that were killed in battle. Twenty four of them are located overseas and an additional twenty six are located stateside. All of them will be closed for the duration of the shutdown.
Hah! Those most responsible for this mess on both sides of the aisle are probably the least affected. They are guaranteed to keep getting a paycheck and are given a pretty wide swath on which staff they are allowed to maintain. While some members have laid off some staff, many others have not. Shit, even the “congressional gym” will stay open during this fiasco but it will only remain so for House members. Not so for the Congressional gym for staff, alas, it will be closed.
Consumer Product Safety Commission
There will be no product recalls during the shutdown unless the product poses a clear and imminent threat to consumer safety. I don’t think anybody has defined exactly what a “clear and imminent threat” is though.
Department of Agriculture
Hurray! Our meat, poultry and grains will still be inspected! On the flip side, no statistical data will be released regarding prices or supply levels. All campgrounds run by the department will also be closed as well as other recreational sites.
The government will not contribute any new funds to the Food Stamps program so if you’re looking to sign up, you’re going to have to wait.
The Forest Service is essentially shutdown and only a minimum of staff such as law enforcement and firefighters remain on duty. That means timber companies had to stop logging operations in the national forests after the seventh day of the shutdown.
Department of Commerce
Of its 46,420 employees, 40,234 will be furloughed. During the shutdown, the Commerce Department will not issue any statistics on the state of the economy. The patent and trademark office will remain open but only if the shutdown doesn’t exceed 14 days after which time it will run out of money.
Our friends at the National Weather Service will remain vigilant in warning us about severe weather conditions should the situation arise.
Department of Defense
Members of the military will continue to serve and be paid for the duration of the shutdown. That’s the good news. The bad news is that if you happen to be killed in action your family won’t receive the approximate $100,000.00 in death benefits until the shutdown is over.
I haven’t seen any statistics on the number of civilian contractors who work for the military that have been furloughed or laid off. I’m guessing that it might be due to matters of national security.
All civilian faculty members have been furloughed. As a result many classes have had to be canceled. Even the library at the Air Force Academy has been forced to close. The students and Naval Academy and Military Academy should consider themselves lucky. Their libraries remain open but no books are allowed to be checked out.
Department of Education
The Department of Education will lay off 3,983 of its 4,225 employees. It will still issues Pell Grants and student loans but the process will take much longer.
Department of Energy
Out if its 13,814 employees, 9,584 will be spending the coming days at home conserving whatever energy they have..
Department of Health and Human Services
Fifty two percent of the staff will be let go. The Head Start Program also failed to deliver funds to twenty programs in eleven states. Most of those funds were designated to younger children and other preschool programs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Let’s hope to God some strange epidemic doesn’t hit while the government is shutdown. Sixty eight percent of the CDC’s staff will be let go and no new research will be conducted to link any outbreaks that occur during the shutdown.
Food and Drug Administration
The FDA will lay off about 45% of its staff (approximately 14,477 people). While we’re at it, we can say goodbye to routine safety inspections as well any new or ongoing research.
National Institutes of Health
I think their website says it all. Users are greeted with a banner message that reads as follows.
”Due to the lapse in government funding, the information on this web site may not be up to date, transactions submitted via the web site may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted.
To me, that reads “Enter at your own risk.”
Department of Homeland Security
Most employees of the department will remain employed during the shutdown. Only fourteen percent of the staff of approximately 231,000 were deemed “non-essential” and let go. If you plan on flying, you’ll still be screened at airports but if you plan on buying a boat, the Coast Guard will not issue you a new license. The United States Secret Service will still be keeping secrets and the Border Patrol will remain on duty.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
I hope you’re not planning on applying for a new home loan to buy that dream house you’ve wished for. A whopping ninety six percent of the staff has been let go.
Department of the Interior
The National Park Service is essentially shutdown completely. All of their 401 units have been told to stay home. That means if you were planning on visiting any monuments in the DC area you can forget about it. If you’re vacationing in a national park, you have forty eight hours to vacate the premises before whatever staff remains haul you off the grounds.
There will be no new permits issued or renewed for oil and gas exploration nor will there be any work done on offshore energy production.
Department of Justice
Where would we be without lawyers? Only 15 percent of the staff will be let go and any civil litigation will come to a grinding halt.
Department of Labor
OSHA will cease any workplace safety inspections unless they're deemed “death worthy”. If you plan on filing a report on your wages being stolen, forget it. Any workplace discrimination claims will also not be investigated until the shutdown is over. In all, eighty two percent of the Labor Departments 16,304 employees will find themselves without any labor to do.
Department of State
You can still apply for a visa or a passport but expect longer than normal processing times. However, the Office of the Inspector General is no longer open for inspection.
Department of Transportation
There will be no new auto recalls for the duration of the shutdown. You can still file a complaint but it will fall on deaf ears. The Merchant Marine Academy has been closed and the FAA has furloughed 15,500 of its 46,000 workers. Among them were 3,000 airline safety inspectors.
Department of the Treasury
If you want to try your hand at money laundering, now might be the time to do it. Ninety one percent of the people in charge of monitoring those kinds of things have been let go. Worse yet, no new alcoholic beverages will come to market since the department will not approve the labels.
Department of Veterans Affairs
Vets have already received payments for things like pensions and disability payments for October so they should be good. November is another story though. If the shutdown lasts more than two or three weeks those payments are in jeopardy. No new disability claims will be processed and all appeals of outstanding claims will be put on hold. Any veterans with medical or mental health appointments can't go to them during the shutdown. They are also unable to fill their prescriptions at VA pharmacies. Veterans' education benefits are also not being paid. In addition The task force responsible for beating down the backlog on service connected disability claims is also furloughed. All in all, 14,224 employees out of 332,025 will be let go.
Environmental Protection Agency
Who gives a shit about the environment? Apparently nobody because ninety three percent of the staff will be furloughed. That means no new licenses or permits will be issued and cleanup efforts at 505 Superfund sites has been suspended.
Federal Communications Commission
The FCC employs 1,754 people. Ninety eight percent of them are now out of job.
General Services Administration
Only 4,094 employees out of a staff of 11,821 people will be reporting to work. These people are responsible for doing general maintenance to federal buildings and other properties owned by the government.
Seventy percent of the civilian workforce will be let go. The super secret NSA and the somewhat super secret CIA have been mum on the issue so far but as far as I can determine thousands of mathematicians and other techno geeks have temporarily been let go. .
Internal Revenue Service
I’m guessing the IRS is the most hated branch of the government and if you thought they weren’t helpful the last time you needed them, now you’re just about guaranteed they won’t assist you. Ninety percent of the staff has been let go. Hope you’re not still waiting on the refund money!
Library of Congress
Completely shut down.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Only about 600 people out of more than 18,000 at NASA will report to work. Most of them are there to monitor existing programs like Hubble and the Mars Rover.
Completely shut down.
National Labor Relations Board
I don’t really know what the agency does but there’s only 11 out of the 1,600 employees left to do it.
National Science Foundation
If you’re a scientist expecting payment from the NSF for some work you’ve done you might be waiting a long time. No payments will go out for the duration of the shutdown nor will any new grants be issued.
For those people doing research for the United States Antarctic Service they will find their roles reduced to something called “caretaker” status. In their words “"all field and research activities not essential to human safety and preservation of property will be suspended". Since most of the field work is done in October through February if the shutdown is not resolved all American led research in the area may be cancelled for the 2013-2014 season.
National Transportation Safety Board
Let’s hope that there aren’t any aviation disasters during the shutdown because the NTSB will not be able to conduct a thorough investigation regarding the circumstances.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The NRC will furlough 3,600 of its 3,900 employees. That means there’s only 300 left to conduct safety inspections, react to any emergencies and monitor waste disposal.
Office of Special Counsel
With a staff of 110 individuals only 3 will remain on the job. That means no new investigation of government malfeasance and investigations currently underway have come to a halt. If you want to “blow the whistle” on something you see going wrong you can forget it. Any whistleblowing complaints will not be accepted for the duration of the shutdown.
Small Business Administration
If you want to open a new business and need to get a loan from the SBA to start it up you’re out of luck. Mentoring programs for business owners, including veterans have also stopped. Sixty two percent of the people that work for the Small Business Administration now have no business to conduct.
The Smithsonian Institution is closed. The same goes for the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum and the National Zoological Park. Don’t worry, the animals in the zoo will still get fed by a skeleton crew.
Social Security Administration
The Social Security folks will still be sending out payment for the foreseeable future but an extended shutdown could see retirees and other beneficiaries see their payments come to a temporary halt until it is resolved.
Out of a staff of 1,701, 1,265 have been told to stay home. I don’t think tours are being conducted and social functions and visiting dignitaries have been curtailed.
There you have it folks, government at its finest.
The shutdown lasted 17 days and was finally resolved on October 17, 2013, one day before the United States would have defaulted on its debt. Expect more chaos in the coming days since it was only a temporary measure and the bitterness between the Republicans and Democrats stands at an all time high.