Government Shutdown Ensues

A government shutdown has officially begun. Here is some critical information for federal employees.

Republicans and Democrats were ultimately unable to set aside their differences, and a partial government shutdown has now officially ensued as government funding lapsed at midnight.

The House passed a temporary spending bill, but it failed in the Senate late Friday. When the shutdown will officially end though is unknown at this point.

The Office of Personnel Management said in an update Saturday, “Federal government operations vary by agency.  Employees should refer to their home agency for guidance on reporting for duty.”

Federal employees are undoubtedly wondering, “What does this mean for me?” Assuming the shutdown continues, here are some important points to know going forward.

Who is Impacted?

Non-essential federal employees will be furloughed. In the 2013 shutdown, roughly 850,000 federal workers were furloughed at the shutdown’s pinnacle.

Whether or not they get paid will be up to Congress. Usually they do end up getting paid, but there are likely to be delays in that process since payroll will be interrupted. How long that interruption lasts will depend on how long the shutdown lasts.

Legislation was already introduced in advance of the shutdown to guarantee back pay for furloughed federal employees.

Essential federal employees will continue to work and get paid, but they may see delays in their checks as well.

What about Retirement and the TSP?

The Thrift Savings Plan will continue to operate normally for the duration of the shutdown. Furloughed employees enrolled in the TSP will not be able to make contributions to the plan while they’re not getting paid. TSP participants can request a financial hardship withdrawal, though certain conditions apply.

What Government Services Will Continue?

Key government services will not be interrupted.

The Postal Service will continue to deliver mail. Social Security recipients will continue to get their checks, and Medicare/Medicaid beneficiaries will continue to receive payments as well.

Air traffic controllers, Transportation Security Administration officers and Customs and Border Protection agents will remain on the job, so air travel should be mostly unaffected.

Other services that will go uninterrupted include Federal courts, passports, unemployment checks, food stamps, US embassies, and the military.

National parks and museums may be closed, however, the Interior Department said it will work to keep these “as accessible as possible” unlike in the 2013 shutdown.

The National Zoo and Smithsonian museums will close after the weekend.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.