In mid-September that year, OMB had told agencies to update their plans for which operations will close and which will stay open, either because they have separate sources of funding or because they fall within an exception for protecting property, public safety or health. That, in turn, drives whether the employees working in those programs will remain on the job in paid status, remain on the job on unpaid status, or be furloughed on unpaid status.
No such memo may be needed this time, however. In 2014 and again this June, OMB already had told agencies to update those plans and submit them as of Aug. 1 of this year. Agencies have been submitting those plans, but they have not been publicly released.
Plans that were posted online by OMB several days in advance of the 2013 shutdown remain there, although in some cases the links are now dead.
The 2014 and 2015 guidance also stated that a week ahead of a possible shutdown, OMB would hold a conference call with senior agency officials “to remind agencies of their responsibilities to review and update orderly shutdown plans.”
That call occurred Monday evening, an OMB spokeswoman confirmed, and happened slightly ahead of a week in advance of the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year due to the special considerations of the Papal visit and the Yom Kippur holiday.
Meanwhile, agencies on Tuesday began responding to queries about the details of a possible shutdown with variants of the following statement from the OMB:
“The Administration strongly believes that a lapse in appropriations should not occur. There is enough time for Congress to prevent a lapse in appropriations, and the Administration is willing to accept a clean, short-term continuing resolution to fund Government operations and allow Congress more time to negotiate an agreement that invests in middle-class economic priorities and helps our entire economy grow.
“However, at this time, prudent management requires that the government plan for the possibility of a lapse and OMB is working with agencies to take appropriate action. This includes agencies reviewing relevant legal requirements and updating their plans for executing an orderly shutdown. Determinations about specific programs are being actively reviewed as agencies undertake this process.
“It is our hope that this work will ultimately be unnecessary and that there will be no lapse in appropriations.”
In 2013, OMB issued a memo on Sept. 30 telling agencies to begin the shutdown process. For employees put on furlough, that includes a half-day on the first day of the shutdown to close down their work, after which they are to leave and not do any work, even voluntarily.