As the President and Congress continue to negotiate a settlement on the FY2011 appropriations bill to avoid a government shutdown, OMB took another step yesterday to implement shutdown plans.  OMB Director Jacob Lew sent a memo to agency heads yesterday following up on guidance issued early in the week.  Lew’s memo provided more detailed guidance and scheduling information on actions agencies should take to implement an orderly shutdown.

These plans would go into effect if agreement is not reached on a final FY2011 appropriations bill and Congress does not pass an extension of the current Continuing Resolution (CR), which expires at midnight tonight, April 8.  Even if agreement is reached at this late date, a further CR extension would probably be necessary to provide enough time for the House and Senate to act on the agreement.  If Congress does not pass a final bill or a CR extension before the deadline, the government will shut down.

Lew ordered agencies to continue to review shutdown plans and communicate the details of those plans to their employees.  These communications should especially address employees’ expected status, “excepted” (report for work) or “non-excepted” (be furloughed) and can be accomplished either electronically or in writing.  Notifications are to be completed no later than the end of the working day, Friday April 8.

If OMB notifies agencies today that a settlement has not been reached and a CR extension will probably not pass, OMB will direct agencies to begin shutdown operations Saturday April 9 and notify their “non-excepted" (furloughed) employees that after midnight April 8 they are not allowed to perform work either at the office site or remotely from home.  However, agencies will be allowed to communicate electronically with furloughed employees to provide status reports or to implement shutdown activities.

If there is a shutdown, furloughed employees will be allowed to perform up to four hours of work on their next duty day (Saturday or Sunday for weekend employees or Monday for all others) to implement shutdown plans.  OMB will notify agencies on Saturday to begin implementing shutdown plans.

If it appears that agreement is reached late Friday night and a CR extension will be enacted on Saturday, OMB will tell agencies to continue normal operations and discontinue implementing shutdown plans.