WASHINGTON — Although Defense Department officials believe a government shutdown can be avoided when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, they want DOD employees to be prepared for the possibility, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a memo issued to the workforce Sept. 23.
The fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and Congress has not passed a budget. If Congress does not approve a budget or pass a continuing resolution, the portions of the government funded via appropriated funds will be forced to close.
“The department remains hopeful that a government shutdown will be averted,” Carter wrote in the memo. “The administration strongly believes that a lapse in funding should not occur and is working with Congress to find a solution.”
Congress still can prevent a lapse in appropriations, but “prudent management requires that we be prepared for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur at the end of the month,” the deputy secretary wrote.
The absence of funding would mean a number of government activities would cease. “While military personnel would continue in a normal duty status, a large number of our civilian employees would be temporarily furloughed,” Carter said. “To prepare for this possibility, we are updating our contingency plans for executing an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations.”
President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel understand the hardships such a shutdown could cause civilian employees, the deputy secretary wrote.
“The administration strongly believes that a lapse in funding should not occur and is working with Congress to find a solution,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters today. “The secretary has made it clear that budget uncertainty is not helpful for us in executing our budget efficiently, and a shutdown would be the worst type of uncertainty. A shutdown would put severe hardships on an already stressed workforce, and is totally unnecessary.”
Carter vowed to provide more information as it becomes available. The Office of Personnel Management’s website has more information.